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FEUP/INESC TEC robotic sailboats awarded again in international competition

A team of researchers from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) and INESC TEC’s Robotics and Intelligent Systems Unit (ROBIS) has recently won two awards in the Robotic Sailboat World Championship, which took place between 2 and 6 September in Brest, France.

The Portuguese team participated with two autonomous sailboats, having come in first place in the “Student’s sailboat” category and receiving the “École Navale Endurance Special Award”. Other than the famous and previously awarded sailboat FASt, this time the FEUP/INESC TEC team added a smaller sailboat to its fleet. A total of eight from different European countries (Germany, United Kingdom, Finland, Spain, France and Portugal) also participated in this competition.

The two sailboats of the Portuguese team competed with six other vessels, and despite the bad weather they confirmed the good performance that they had already demonstrated in previous editions. Once again, to obtain these results the vessels stood out due to their outstanding features: endurance, navigation precision and capacity to detect obstacles. It is important to remember that the FASt had already won the title of world champion in the previous edition of this competition, which took place in Cardiff, in September 2012.

The FASt was developed as part of an extracurricular project by Electrical and Computer Engineering students at FEUP that started in 2007 and more recently, the sailboat has been used by INESC TEC’s Robotics and Intelligent Systems Unit (ROBIS). The multidisciplinary features of this project have contributed greatly to train students of the Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering who have been actively developing and perfecting the different systems in the sailboat. Following this activity, the Unit also developed a new autonomous sailboat, which was the result of an adaptation of a small radio controlled commercial sailboat, having also participated in this competition.

With capacity to sail autonomously while consuming low amounts of energy, these autonomous sailboats are unmanned vessels which can go on programmed missions and react to different environmental conditions. Furthermore, the robot can carry a wide variety of sensors and can stay in the ocean for long periods of time. More recently, the FEUP/INESC TEC team has been collaborating with the Portuguese Navy, through its Centre for Naval Research (CINAV) and Naval School, which also has ongoing projects in this domain.

INESC TEC, September 2013



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