Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile team will turn a catamaran into a robot to compete in “formula 1” navigation

A UC Engineering team was awarded an American catamaran to participate in the Maritime Robot X Challenge, the most demanding naval robotics competition in the world, the next version of which will be held in November 2022 in Sydney, Australia.

It is the WAM-V model, a ship of about five meters long and about 150 kilos in weight, which will be equipped with Artificial Intelligence and equipped with a drone to autonomously pass a series of tests arranged on the Australian coast.

“Without this catamaran we would not be able to participate in this international competition, because this is like Formula 1, where all vehicles must meet the same technical specifications , ” said Giancarlo Troni, academic of Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering UC.

The researcher appreciated that the UC Engineering team, called RoboPUC-X, has won one of the nine ships that the organizers award to teams around the world. “Despite not having great resources, we were able to make an interesting proposal for the organizers,” said the engineer.

“Each team of engineers installs their own Artificial Intelligence algorithm on the catamaran. The idea is for it to be capable of autonomously passing a series of tests inspired by current navigation problems ” , said the robotics specialist.

Giancarlo Troni announced that among the most complex tests, the navigation between obstacles and the operation of a drone completely piloted by the Artificial Intelligence system stand out. This must take off from the catamaran platform, rescue an object from the sea and return to the deck of the ship, without human intervention.

Among the instruments that the robot will have, a laser capable of detecting obstacles and measuring distances stands out. In addition, it will have several multi-spectrum cameras and two three-horsepower electric motors, powered by batteries for naval use, which should give an autonomy of eight hours of navigation.

For now, the UC Engineering robotics team awaits the arrival of the catamaran, which comes by boat from California, United States, where the factory is located . Engineers are also looking for sponsors in order to have a competitive platform, since the ship does not have a propulsion system or sensors.

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