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Southampton Sailing Robot

A project by: Southampton Sailing Robot Team


WE RAISED £1,602

from 18 donors

This project received pledges on Thu 30 Jun 2016

The University of Southampton's Student Support Fund provides matched funding opportunities for academic priorities focused on advancing research, enterprise and innovation.

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@Timfkmiller Hello Tim, Thank you for your questions! Before a race or competition task, we have the position of the buoys, so we can set waypoints ourselves. However, from a given time before a race starts, the boat has to be autonomous, so the boat does everything from waiting at the start line until the end of the race. During the race, we’ll watch both the boat and the data it sends back to a laptop. In fleet races there is one exception: if our boat is at risk of a collision, we will temporarily take control to steer it away from the other boat. We have an off-the-shelf remote control for this purpose. This manual override is necessary due to the difficulty of sensing more than the difficulty of automated control. At the scale of the sailing robots, detecting another boat is not easy! Whilst crossing the Atlantic, AIS (Automatic Identification System) is useful for large-scale obstacle avoidance. At the sub-100m scale of the racing area, it is out of the question. To enable us to detect the obstacle, we think the most interesting feature is the colour, since it will allow us to detect it with a camera. This year for the collision avoidance task we have to detect an orange moving obstacle. In the future, maybe we all have to use the same sail and boat colour, so sailing robots can detect others? To be honest, some of our sailing enthusiasts are a little bit disappointed to be focussing on parameters for different wind conditions, and how to best use the wind direction and heeling angle, rather than tactical considerations for racing. On the other hand, we are happy to cover RYA sailing 1 first before we attempt higher levels!

I'm interested to know how autonomous the robot is. Where in the control loop is the human operator, and what are his cues? I can see that decisions about sail set for the wind and point to point navigation can be automated; how about racing rights of way and tactics?

Best wishes from the Walnut Valley Sailing Club. Tim Miller Commodore

I never got to race our entry to the Man Powered Submarine Championships when an undergraduate - I hope you make it to your championships!