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Robotic sailboats coming to Gloucester, courtesy of Olin College

Posted by Laura Franzini  November 16, 2012 01:01 PM

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Olin College of Engineering

Needham's Olin College of Engineering has partnered with the City of Gloucester to co-host the 7th International Robotic Sailing Regatta, known as Sailbot, June 9 through 13, 2013, in Gloucester.

According to the college, the global robotic sailing competition began in 2006 as a senior project at the University of British Columbia.

The contest challenges student teams to design and build robotic sailboats capable of five on-water challenges that test the speed, maneuverability, and navigational capabilities within the environmental variables. Each team will also present the innovative and dynamic methods used in the design and manufacturing process in detail.

In addition to a Two-meter Class and an Open Class (for boats up to four meters), a one-meter category has been added.

The deadline for teams to indicate an intention to compete in the regatta is Feb. 15, 2013, and interested parties can email sailboat2013@gmail.com. They will receive proper registration materials once they indicate their participation.

"We are very excited to be partnering with the City of Gloucester to bring this event to the Northeast," said Drew Bennett, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Olin, in a press release. "There is a rich history of maritime innovation in Gloucester and a desire to learn more about how the local community can leverage that experience to find solutions for our oceanographic landscape in the 21st century. Sailbot is the perfect opportunity to provide a fun, educational challenge for students interested in the future of our oceans."

The college notes that this kind of autonomous watercraft technologies may yield advancements in national security and marine biology.

Olin College took second place overall in their first Sailbot competition last June, and received special commendation for their success in the navigational portion of the contest. Team representatives Jaime McCandless '11 and Jason Curtis '11, along with faculty members Bennett and Dave Barrett, were selected to give a keynote presentation about Sailbot at National Instruments Week 2012.

For more information about the Sailbot regatta, visit www.sailbot.org.

Laura Franzini can be reached at laura.franzini@globe.com.

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