WRSC 2017 Day 3 - Area scanning

It was raining before we left our hotel in the morning, and we were already quite wet when we reached the competition venue. We were very grateful to our hosts for finding some big space heaters to warm up the marquee and dry out our coats and shoes a bit.

The rain wasn’t stopping the competition, however. The boats need to be waterproof anyway. The third challenge is to sail around an L-shaped grid, entering as many 20×20m squares as possible in under half an hour and getting back to the finish line.

On the first attempt, the boat appeared to be trying to avoid the target area, curving neatly around it. We think that the compass may have been giving bad readings; calibrating it correctly was tricky throughout the competition. We returned to the tent to recalibrate it and have some lunch.

We made a second attempt in the afternoon. This time we could see the boat in the right general area, sailing back and forth. But it was out of our wifi range, and the competition’s live tracking system wasn’t working, so we couldn’t tell if it was really doing the right thing. We crossed our fingers and waited.

small boat in a grey sea

Once it was definitely out of the grid, we eagerly brought it back to the tent to get the data off and see the result.

area scanning GPS trace

It could hardly be better! The blue markers are the official coordinates for the L shaped grid and the finish line. The black spots are our waypoints: one before the start line, 48 in the grid, and one either side of the finish line.

After the challenge, we got a demonstration of ‘Odin’, a boat under development for the Norwegian military. It’s eventually going to be autonomous, but for now, a human sailor can control it from a remote control that looks like a games controller. Another team’s boat had got stranded, so they went out on Odin to retrieve it.

US Navy getting a lift

Finally, our hosts and sponsors laid on a barbeque in the competition marquee, while we ogled ‘Hugin’, a large orange AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) made by Kongsberg, one of the main sponsors of the competition.