An autonomous sailing vessel (ASV) is an unmanned sailboat capable of sailing through water using advanced computerized control systems and sustainable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy. Ideally, an ASV should be a self-regenerating vessel, which means it should be capable of operating without the consumption of any fossil fuels.
An ASV could be used in different areas, such as:
- Environmental monitoring;
- Search and rescue;
- Security and surveillance;
- Seabed mapping;
- Cargo transportation
The figure to the left shows the current ASV prototype of our group.
The World Robotic Sailing Championship
The World Robotics Sailing Championship (WRSC), held together with the International Robotic Sailing Conference - IRSC, is the world largest fully autonomous sailing robot event. The competition is open to wind-powered unmanned vehicles up to 4 metres long. The conference provides researchers with the opportunity to present and exchange ideas on their work. This year competition was held at Ningbo, China through August 25th-30st, 2019.
This year challenges were:
A basic triangular sailing race course challenge. Boats start at the starting line, with 30 second intervals between them, they should cross the start line, reach three virtual markers and then reach the finish line.
Station keeping and avoidance:
Station keeping challenge, or "virtual moorings", tests the boat ability to moor or cruise at a fixed place. Consisted of part A and B, it a test on the ship's capacity to precisely control in small-scale.
In part A, the boat needs to stay as close as possible to a virtual buoy, which position is given by a GPS location. The challenge area is a circle with a radius of 15m. Sailing boats will be released at least 30m away from the target center. In part B, the challenge area is centered on a physical buoy, located in an unknown position in a 10m*10m area. Therefore, the boat needs to be able to acquire the buoy exact position visually or using other detecting methods. Collisions with the buoy are penalized and the sailing boats are released at least 30m away from the target center.
Collaborative area scanning:
In recent years, an increasing number of attempts have been made at using maritime vessels in collaboration. Hence, in this challenge, a typical collaborative task of efficiently scanning a large area is considered. The collaborative area scanning challenge asks teams to take the abilities and scanning goals of other teams into consideration to optimize their own points. The scanning task is performed over a large area that is sub-divided into grids.
During the area scanning challenge, the vessel tracker position is made available to all teams via a live tracking website. A 4G/3G module is recommended if vessels want to receive real-time tracking data of other boats, so that they can plan which grids are worth visiting.
Hide and seek:
This challenge involves interaction and counterwork. Detecting and chasing a particular target is a complex high level task for auto vessels.
Each team is assigned with a pair of circles and start the challenge from one of those circles. The circles' diameters are 5m, and the distance between a pair of circles is 30m. Vessels may choose to 'hide' or 'seek'. 'Hide' means the vessel sails between its two circle and each back and forth is one 'hide'. 'Seek' means detecting the tag of your partner. Two different tags will be put on the sail of each vessel, one on each side. Detecting and identifying the tag is a successful 'seek' during one back and forth trip.