ONR, SPAWAR Support Maritime RobotX Challenge

Sailors and civilian personnel from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) journeyed to Singapore to support the inaugural Maritime RobotX Challenge, Oct. 24-26.

The event is sponsored by ONR and organized by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation, the National University of Singapore Faculty of Engineering, and Science Center Singapore.

Over the weekend, 15 teams of college students from top engineering universities in the United States, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and South Korea will compete to see who can turn an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) into the most effective autonomous system, able to accomplish mission-related tasks without the aid of remote control.

Fourteen Sailors and five civilian technical experts from ONR and SPAWAR will spend the week preparing the teams by overseeing transportation of the USVs to and from the water and setting up an obstacle course. Navy personnel will also act as safety observers, inspectors and judges.

Each team was given an identical USV – an unpowered version of the 16-foot Wave Adaptive Modular Vehicle – and tasked with adding sensors, software and other technology that will allow the vehicle to think and move on its own.

Teams will have to complete several tasks to demonstrate autonomous navigation and control; obstacle detection and avoidance; docking and object identification; underwater search for an acoustic source; and observation, identification and reporting of a specified object.

The biennial event aims to strengthen students’ knowledge in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), enhancing skills the U.S. Navy will need as the current generation of naval scientists and engineers reaches retirement age.

Press release, Image: US Navy

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