Aber Sailbot off to San Francisco

A TEAM of three undergraduate Computer Scientists from Aberystwyth University will be competing later this week in Sailbot2014, an annual robotic sailing competition which is taking place in San Francisco.

Daniel Clark, Ashley Iles and Louis Taylor from the Aberystwyth Sailbot team

Daniel Clark, Ashley Iles and Louis Taylor from the Aberystwyth Sailbot team

The Aber Sailbot team has been creating and competing in autonomous robotic sailing competitions since 2012, and won third place in Sailbot2013 and the award for the Best Open Source Architecture at the World Robotic Sailing Championships in France last year.

The boats themselves are robots, and they are controlled by inbuilt state-of-the-art GPS system which allows them to navigate themselves around any course, similar to a Sat-Nav system. Each team must build and program an autonomous sailing boat to compete in a range of events against other teams, with no human interaction to control the boat.

Daniel Clark, a second year Computer Science student and an Aber Sailbot team member, explained: “We wanted to set ourselves a bigger challenge of building a much larger and faster boat for entry into Sailbot2014 in San Francisco. Our intelligence and logic systems are powered by a tiny Raspberry Pi computer which interfaces with the majority of the rest of the boat via an Arduino Uno board.”

Challenge

The other team members are Louis Taylor and Ashley Iles, who are also second year students from the department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University. Their new boat, Kitty, has been specifically designed and built to enter this competition in San Francisco and will be up against strong teams from the US Naval Academy, the University of British Columbia and Virginia Tech.

Louis Taylor, an Artificial Intelligence and Robotics student, said: “We are the only team competing from outside of North America. It’s going to be tough but we are very happy with what we’ve produced and we’re looking forward to the challenge.

“We’re also very grateful to the Department of Computer Science here in Aberystwyth and our sponsors: QinetiQ, ARM, The Raspberry Pi Foundation, Embedded Bits, Kano Computing and Kneath Associates.

“We are however always on the lookout for more sponsors and funding, so if you’re interested in getting involved with us, please get in touch.”