WPI Robotics Team Wins SailBot ’18 Competition

WPI earns first place honors at the 12th annual unmanned sailboat competition for the second year in a row
June 20, 2018

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) won the 12th annual International Robotic Sailing Competition in an event that featured unmanned sailboats navigating a variety of challenges on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester.

This marks the second year in a row that WPI has won the SailBot competition. Last year, WPI beat 10 teams during the event held on Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Md.

The SailBot competition challenges students to apply their robotics knowledge to develop autonomous boats up to two meters in length that could eventually lead to low-cost oceanographic research vessels used for pollution control and surveillance.

The competition featured seven teams participating in five precision and endurance contests. WPI beat second-place finisher Broadneck High School of Annapolis, Md., at the five-day event held last week at Regatta Point Community Sailing Center.

SailBot co-advisors Ken Stafford, director of the WPI Robotics Resource Center, and William Michalson, professor of electrical and computer engineering at WPI, offered technical guidance to the WPI SailBot team, which constructed a new vessel for this year’s competition.  The primary enhancements included new structural features and electronics, such as coding. The vessel participated in multiple matches, such as fleet races, precision navigation tests, an endurance challenge, and others. 

The five-member WPI student team on hand at the event was composed of 2018 graduates Hans Johnson, of Saint Peter, Minn.; James Kuszmaul of Mountain View, Calif.; Jordan Burklund of West Des Moines, Iowa; Liam Shanahan of Princeton, Mass.; and Travis Norris of Austin, Texas.

Read more about the SailBot competition in The Daily Herd.

To view the competition results, visit this link.