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AGH Solar Boat and “Barka” with success overseas

Image of the AGH Solar Boat team with their boat in front of a body of water during a sunny day

Photo source: AGH Solar Boat

AGH Solar Boat and “Barka” with success overseas

Second place in the general classification and second place in Design Documentation – that is the result AGH Solar Boat and their autonomous boat Barka are coming home with from the international RoboBoat Competition in the USA.

RoboBoat is an international competition where students design, build, and compete with self-driving robotic boats, known as ASVs, in a series of tests aimed at challenging teams through a variety of autonomous (self-driving) tasks. This year the event took place on 5–11 February in Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida, USA. Qualified to participate were as many as 16 teams from 6 countries: Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Türkiye, USA, and Poland (besides the team from the AGH University there was also a team from Gdańsk Tech with their SimLE SeaSentine construction). All teams passed safety control, but 15 of them qualified to the final.

At RoboBoat, AGH Solar Boat was represented by six people responsible for the construction, electrics and electronics, programming, and marketing. The competing student boat “Barka” is a module catamaran measuring 1.3 m by 0.75 m, equipped among others in a vision system and a neural network. Its hull is made of basalt fibres which enable the magnetic field penetration. Moreover, it has a robotic arm aimed at autonomously fishing objects out of the water. The entire construction is light and sturdy.

Photo source: AGH Solar Boat

Image of the AGH Solar Boat construction floating on water

The first stage of the competition was the technical inspection for controlling the electrical safety of the boat. AGH Solar Boat went through it without any issues and finished first. Then, the teams were to participate in two navigation tasks: Navigation Channel and Follow the Path. These tasks also were not of difficulty for our team, and they qualified into the final, once again as the firsts. The AGH  University team passed three attempts at the track and four final tasks: Navigation Channel (passing through two sets of gates, a pair of red and green buoys), Follow the Path (passing through a pathway between multiple sets of gates and avoiding intermittent yellow and black buoys while counting and reporting duck sightings), Speed Challenge (entering the gate buoys, manoeuvres around the marker buoy, and exiting thought the same gate buoys, as quickly as possible), Return to Home (returning to start of course in autonomous mode, manoeuvring through a pair of black buoys positioned near the start of the course). “Barka” had to autonomously perform these tasks, avoid buoys of a given colour, and pass through a selected track. The weather conditions did not help. All teams struggled with strong wind, waves, and the sun, which, falling at unfavourable angles, was able to distort the colours of the buoys in the video camera, making it difficult to detect objects and swim autonomously.

When it comes to Design Documentation, the following were taken into consideration: a presentation on the technologies and solutions applied in the boat, a technical report, a website and a video prepared for the purpose of the competition.

Let us remind you that it is not a first-time thing for “Barka” in RoboBoat, as in the previous edition of the competition she received an award for the best autonomous construction.

The supervisor of AGH Solar Boat is Dr Eng. Krzysztof Sornek from the Faculty of Energy and Fuels.