Michigan Engineering News

The Michigan RobotX team competed in the 2018 Maritime RobotX Challenge in Honolulu on Dec. 8-15. Photo: Michigan RobotX

Michigan RobotX team finds camaraderie in competition

Tough weather and technical challenges brought teams together.

The Michigan RobotX team made its debut in the 2018 Maritime RobotX Challenge in Honolulu on Dec. 8-15.

Teams from 15 universities and six countries travelled to Hawaii for the contest where they demonstrated autonomous vessel navigation, obstacle detection and avoidance, delivery and docking–all without human or computer intervention.

James Coller, a naval architecture and marine engineering doctorate student and team captain, said the competition was friendly and other universities frequently worked together to keep the boats working.

“Embry Riddle Aeronautical University was kind enough to donate two emergency stop buttons to us,” said Coller. “Then, we aided the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Florida with tools and spare parts.”

For their collaborative efforts, judges presented the Michigan RobotX team with the friendship award for their efforts with other universities.

While teams were supportive of each other, the weather wasn’t always as kind. On the third day of the competition, heavy rains proved troublesome for the autonomous vehicles. The Michigan Engineering team’s controllers ran into issues connecting to the team’s computers and the GPS failed to keep a signal.

The Michigan RobotX team didn’t place in the top three for the competition, but being the first year the team competed, the team still has plenty of room to grow from their experiences in Honolulu.

The Michigan RobotX team is a multidisciplinary team of sixteen undergraduate and graduate students with backgrounds in the fields of naval architecture and marine engineering, electrical engineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, robotics, and computer science. The team has three faculty advisors and four industry mentors.

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