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Timothy Puglia and Izaak Cornelis working on their boat

A few days before their departure, the entire six-member student team was still busy fine-tuning their robot boat called 'Trident' for the RoboBoat competition to be held in Daytona, Florida, on June 18-24.

The RoboBoat event is an international competition for autonomous boats built by student teams. Fourteen teams will enter this 11th edition. For the Delft team Trident, it's the first time they are participating. In fact, it was Damen Shipyards that suggested setting up a student team to the Delft Robovalley.

In the competition, the boats must sail autonomously, as indicated by a beacon light, and complete a course within 20 minutes. A typical mission includes mooring, sailing away, avoiding buoys and other obstacles, and navigating under bridges. Orientation, object recognition, navigation and manoeuvring skills will all be tested.

‘Trident' features a Lidar system (light radar) that constantly scans the surroundings. A small camera in the bow adds visual information to the spatial information. The image processing software detects buoys and can tell whether it’s a green or red one. No less than four computers and three microcontrollers process the data from sensors, combine them with the navigation mission, and translate all that information into the thrust for the two propellers.

According to the students, the distinguishing feature of the ‘Trident’ is its integrated design. Hull, computers, electronics and sensors have all been developed simultaneously, which resulted in a light and compact boat (75 cm long, 52 cm wide and 12 kg). Its trimaran shape offers stability while accommodating the computer rack in the centre hull (and is responsible for the name).

What started as a robotics minor has resulted in an autonomous boat, ready for international competition. Six students have invested every evening and every weekend since January to develop their boat and to attract sponsors to participate in the RoboBoat event.

Follow their adventure over the next week through their own media outlets on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (@TridentDelft).

On the RoboBoat event:

On the Trident team:


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