SailBot 2013 International Robotic Sailing Regatta is a robotic sailing competition in which the goal is to create an unmanned sailboat that navigates through a variety of challenges with limited, if any, human control.
We met the Aberystwyth Sailbot team at the recent Cambridge Raspberry Jam. Their Sailbot uses a Raspberry Pi to make sure its tiny little crew make their way safely back home and we liked it so much that we are proud to be sponsoring them. Daniel Clark from the team tells us more:
We’re a team of students from Aberystwyth University. In October last year, we all knew we had an interest in robotics, and we were given the opportunity to build and program an autonomous boat, so we decided to start work and later enter it as a team in the Sailbot competition, this year held near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, in June 2013.
Our entry’s control system is based off of a Raspberry Pi for all the major logic (written in Python and Java) and an Arduino Uno for interfacing with most of our sensors. We chose the Raspberry Pi to put at the heart of our control system because we knew it was small, robust and it would run code written in any language we wanted. Another key thing it had was networking so we could use Git as our version control system, as well as being able to SSH into the Pi remotely and make any last-minute adjustments. Also it had USB, which was needed for us to connect to the Arduino.
Our 1.2m long boat has two servos (one for the rudder and one for the sail), a GPS, a wind direction sensor and a compass. We also have a backup RC remote which, when turned on, automatically takes priority over the on-board control system, so that we can manually avoid collisions during the fleet races. If Sailbot2013 goes well we also plan to enter it into this year’s World Robotic Sailing Championships held in Brest, France, this September, and will continue to perfect it and hopefully enter it into next year’s Sailbot as well.
Preliminary tests using RC can be seen here: