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14-Aug-2013

Contact: Peter Vietti
ONRPublicAffairs@navy.mil
703-696-5031
Office of Naval Research

Students to face-off in new RobotX game

RoboNation gears up for larger, more competitive, global robotics competition

ARLINGTON, Va.—RoboNation is gearing up for a larger, more competitive, global event that is entering the field of student robotics competitions, U.S. Navy officials announced Aug. 14.

The Maritime RobotX Challenge is co-sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Foundation and Singapore's Ministry of Defence, which is hosting the inaugural event.

The new competition—announced at AUVSI's Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C.—will take place Oct. 20-26, 2014, in Singapore and is scheduled to occur every two years.

Three teams each from five countries—the United States, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea—will battle for $100,000 in prize money. The student teams will be chosen using a competitive selection model; teams may be from multiple schools, as collaboration among institutions is encouraged to foster innovation and raise the level of competition.

"For the Department of the Navy to continue to develop future capabilities, we need a pipeline of young people interested in subject areas like robotics and autonomy," said Kelly Cooper, a program officer in ONR's Sea Warfare and Weapons department. "This competition serves as a catalyst for autonomous vehicle development that can ultimately lead to operational unmanned systems."

The participating countries are from the Pacific region, mirroring the U.S. military's increasing focus on this area and the Navy's direction to expand its presence there in the coming years, as stated in the [Chief of Naval Operations'] Navigation Plan 2014-2018.

"ONR Global has an office in Singapore, and it's a natural fit for the first challenge to be hosted by such a strong United States partner in the Pacific," Cooper said.

For the Pacific-based Maritime RobotX, each team will receive an unpowered version of the 16-foot Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel (WAM-V), as well as a grant to build a battery-powered propulsion system and sensors. In the future, the goal is to enable the launch of micro-air vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles from the modular WAM-V platform to demonstrate multi-domain, autonomous platform interoperability.

"We're essentially jump-starting the students' awareness of naval architecture by giving them a platform that they'll need to know intimately," said Daryl Davidson, AUVSI Foundation executive director. "Their understanding of the platform is critical to the vessel's performance and success."

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

As with other competitions sponsored by ONR and the AUVSI Foundation, Maritime RobotX uses realistic scenarios that allow students a hands-on opportunity to develop their skills in systems engineering, as well as collaborate with the engineers and organizations developing autonomous surface vehicle technologies.

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To learn more about the competition, go to: http://www.robotx.org.