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“Barka” — the best technical and engineering student project

Image of a boat floating on the surface of a body of water with numerous colorful buoys

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“Barka” — the best technical and engineering student project

“Barka”, a floating, autonomous research unit by the AGH Solar Boat Team, is the best student project in engineering and technical sciences in the Tech category of the 13th edition of the StRuNa competition.

“Barka” is a catamaran, i.e. a boat which consists of two parallel hulls connected by a specially constructed platform. As a result of such a construction, the watercraft is stable and can move with precision. Hulls as well as the board are made of basalt fabric and connected by aluminium profiles.

The boat is approximately 1.5 meters long and 1 meter wide. It is autonomous, so it can move on water on its own, but it is also equipped with a manual control mode. The construction has a machine vision system based on neural networks. The camera in stereo mode receives images from two lenses, which allows the on-board computer to assess the distance from navigation buoys. The boat is able to “recognise” the buoys and their colours, and by moving between them it sets its own trail.

“Barka” is eco-friendly, light, and very durable.  Such a type of boat may be used in scientific research, among many other purposes. Taking advantage of the adequate equipment, the boat can study the bottom of a body of water, pH of water, and water or air pollutions.

In March this year, it was considered to be the best autonomous boat construction-wise at an international student competition, RoboBoat, USA. As a result, the AGH Solar Boat Team received a cash prize.

The StRuNa competition is organised by the Polish Student Support Fund. The initiative is addressed at students and doctoral students from Polish universities who participated in team scientific projects within research clubs, academic media, academic associations, as well as student and doctoral student government bodies.

The 13th edition concerned only projects from the period of October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023. There were as many as 207 submissions, and the laureates were announced on November 18, 2023.

During the evaluation of the projects in the Tech category, there were some key elements under consideration, such as the originality of the idea, professional implementation, and scientific value. Not without significance were the way of disseminating the project results and the team members’ engagement.

What is worth noting is the fact that two research clubs from the AGH University received distinctions, i.e. sociology students’ research club (category: Media) and AGH Space Systems (category: Research Club of the Year).