Battle by the bay

Team NUS' Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) nicknamed Sharky, is transported into the docking bay with the use of a crane during a practice round at the Floating Platform@Marina Bay on. The team will be one of 15 teams from international universities including the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Olin College in the USA, which will compete in a maritime robotics competition which is part of the world's first Maritime RobotX Challenge held in Singapore.

The Vessel

The Office of Naval Research provided each team with a standard bare-bones USV. The teams are to provide their propulsion units and programme software to give their USV autonomous capabilities.



A Lidar (light detection and ranging) measures distance by targeting an object with laser and analysing the reflected light.

Inertia measurement unit

This unit works together with Global Positioning System to determine the speed.


A high-resolution camera to capture image data of the environment that can be processed and analysed.


Different components on the vessel are powered by their own power supply, typically lithium batteries.

Kill switch

For safety, there is a physical kill switch in addition to a remote wireless one.

Propulsion unit

Competing teams have to design and assemble their propulsion system.


The shock absorbers have an integrated air spring and damper to balance the vessel.


The vessel is controlled by software programmed by the teams.

Maritime RobotX Challenge

In this competition, the autonomous USVs must complete a series of tasks on their own without intervention by team members.

Task 1: Demonstrate navigation and control

The vessel must move through the start and end gates.

Task 2: Underwater search and report

The vessel must identify and locate an underwater device that is emitting an acoustic signal.

Task 3: Identify and dock

The vessel must identify one of three docking bays, and must enter and exit the correct bay.

Task 4: Observe and report

The vessel must observe a "light buoy" and determine the sequential light pattern it flashes.

Task 5: Detect and avoid obstacles

The vessel must enter through a specific gate, navigate through obstacles without contact and exit through a designated gate.

Science and technology showcase

Members of the public can also take part in fringe events around The Float @ Marina Bay, such as watching the Robots Live! show, where gigantic robots battle each other, or joining free workshops and lectures to learn more about building their own robots. The Maritime RobotX Challenge is from 9am to 6pm, from today to Sunday, and is free.

The event is organised by the National University of Singapore Faculty of Engineering, Science Centre Singapore and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Foundation.

This article was first published on Oct 24, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.