Abu Dhabi: Top scientists, experts to judge MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge semis

The competition, which aims to solve the real-world issues of piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing, will be held in June 2023

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A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 3 Feb 2022, 2:46 PM

Eminent international scientists and top experts have been named as jury and judges of the MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge semi-finals phase.

While a five-member jury panel will shortlist the entrants, a two-member judging panel will select the semi-finalists from the shortlisted contestants.

Aspire, the technology programme management pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) and the organiser of the challenge, said the judges and jury will evaluate the whitepapers submitted by teams from all over the world as the deadline ended on January 31.

The competition, which aims to solve the real-world issues of piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing, will be held in Abu Dhabi in June 2023.

In the process of shortlisting the whitepapers, 40 per cent weightage will be for a team’s technical qualifications and 60 per cent for their proposed approach to solving the challenge.

Dr Arthur Morrish, chief executive, Aspire, said the Challenge will set a milestone in the advancement of autonomous technology.

“The entire process - from the selection of teams to the execution of the final competition - is being carried out meticulously. When you think about the potential impact, we hope the solutions developed will have on the critical issues of piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing, we want the best out there judging it.”

The jury for the preliminary phase comprises: Dr Allan Steinhardt, chief scientist at AEye, US; Dr Cesare Stefanini, professor and head of Creative Engineering Design Lab at Faculty of BioRobotics Institute of SSSA, Italy; Dr Francesco la Gala, expert in autonomous robotics, based in Italy; Dr Robert Hummel, chief scientist and vice-president of Research at Potomac Institute, US; and Dr Eric Krotkov, chief science officer at Toyota Research Institute, US. The judging panel for the final selection is Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC and Dr Tony Tether, former director of DARPA.

The Maritime Grand Challenge, part of the Mohammed Bin Zayed International Robotics Competition (MBZIRC) series, is open to universities, research institutions, companies and individual innovators. Hundreds of participants from around the world registered for the competition since its announcement in October of last year.


After the white paper phase, there will be the simulation phase where the participating teams will be required to complete inspection and intervention tasks in simulation. In August 2022, this phase will see the shortlisting of the five finalist teams. And the demonstration phase will take place in June 2023 where teams will prove their system capabilities.

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

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