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The RoboBoat Competition

RoboBoat is an international marine robotics competition, run by RoboNation. Each team builds an Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) around 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. Over the course of a week, each ASV must complete a variety of different challenges. 

Navigational Tasks

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The navigational tasks test the boat’s ability to see and recognize obstacles, plan a path around them, and then execute that plan. In order to successfully complete these challenges, the computer vision, path planning, and path execution/controls algorithms must be working perfectly in sync within the onboard operating system. Mechanically, the boat must remain stable in order for the cameras and sensors to be able to see clearly, and the propulsion systems must be able to produce consistent and reliable thrust. Some of the tasks include navigating through a maze, docking, and navigating around a buoy and back as fast as possible.

Robotic Tasks


The robotic tasks test the boat’s ability to physically interact with its environment. In order to successfully complete these challenges, mechanical and electrical robotics components must be working together seamlessly to execute precise movements. On the software side, the cameras and sensors process data about the boat’s surroundings, which is then used by the motion planning algorithms and motor control code to manipulate onboard actuators. Some of the robotics tasks include collecting objects from the water and placing them in specific areas, shooting water at targets, and shooting skeeballs at targets.

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