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Abu Dhabi: $3 million maritime robotics challenge announced

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 28, 2021
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Challenge involves unmanned aerial vehicles that have to identify a target in open waters

The Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC) is calling on innovators, techies, universities, research institutions, companies from across the globe to seek solutions to marine safety and security, and grab $3 million in prizes.

The next edition titled ‘MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge’ to be held in Abu Dhabi is split into three phases: white paper starting from October 1 (Friday) to December 30, simulation in August next year and live demonstration by the finalists in June 2023 in the Capital.

In a new kind of exercise in autonomous robotics, the challenge will involve a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles to identify a target vessel from several similar vessels in open waters in a global navigation satellite system-denied environment, and to offload specific items from the target onto an unmanned surface vehicles in the shortest possible time using autonomous technologies.

The challenge is organised by Aspire, the technology programme management pillar of the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC).

Faisal Al Bannai, secretary general, ATRC, said the real-world challenge will push the participants to the limits of their capabilities. “The event is a great opportunity to demonstrate the pioneering scientific research work that is taking place in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”

Dr Arthur Morrish, chief executive, Aspire, said the objective of holding the Challenge is to take the technology out of the laboratory and test it in a real-world environment to see what is possible.

“For countries with long coastlines, ensuring maritime safety requires significant investment in sophisticated equipment and highly trained personnel. Using advanced robotic systems can not only help reduce costs, but also handle some of the often-dangerous tasks performed by humans.”

Those wishing to participate must register by visiting www.mbzirc.com. A white paper has to be submitted describing the team, its background in swarm robotics, computer vision, simultaneous localisation and mapping, marine vehicles and communications, along with a proposed technical approach.

In August 2022, shortlisted semi-finalist teams will complete inspection and intervention tasks via simulation in the presence of a judging committee.

And finally in June 2023, live demonstrations will be held in a specially designated marine area off the coast of Abu Dhabi, when 5 finalist teams will put their systems to the test.

“A nice thing about this challenge is that you tell people what you want, but you don’t specify an approach to do it,” Dr Morrish added.

The team winning the first prize will bag $2,000,000, second $500,000 and third $250,000. A simulation phase completion prize of $500,000 will be split among the teams progressing to demonstration phase.

Registration is open from October 1 till December 30, 2021.

ashwani@khaleejtimes.com

author

Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.





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