KAIST wins second place in unmanned boat competition
Competing among 15 teams from the U.S., Japan, and other nations, MIT captures first place Showcasing technological supremacy in unmanned systems
A KAIST research team led by Professor Kim Jin-hwan of the Oceans Systems Engineering Department won second place in an international competition to promote technologies related to autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
Prof. Kim’s team took second place in the inaugural Maritime RobotX Challenge, held from October 20 to 26, 2014 in Marina Bay, Singapore. With respect to the main feature of the unmanned boat, Professor Kim commented: “We focused on the development of an autonomous driving technology. It has been designed so that a computer can determine necessary actions and command itself via sensors.”
The boat can calculate positioning and navigation through integration of GPS and compass sensors, and it navigates by generating waypoints. Its entrance-angle • distance • position control algorithm also enables self-control of the unmanned boat. It uses LiDAR and video to detect objects underwater. Markers can be detected and identified through images taken by a camera and LiDAR can detect and recognize the 3D shape. The boat has adapted these unmanned technologies for telecommunication and the control system, an embedded system and software for real-time control and data processing. The maximum speed of the boat is about four knots and it can operate for 5-6 hours. In the competition, the KAIST team successfully performed the following five tasks: autonomous driving through recognition of the course, searching underwater for acoustic sources, automatically approaching the pier, remote observation of buoys, and avoidance and detection of obstacles. In addition to taking second prize, the team also won the best website prize and a special prize from the competition supporter, Northrop Grumman Corporation, an American defense technology company, earning prize money totaling US$16,500.
Park Jeong-hon, a doctoral student who joined the research project, cited the “enhanced stability of its system” as the greatest strength of the team’s project. “We outpaced MIT (the first prize winner) in the semi-final. In terms of technology, we are already considered world-class,” he said.
Prof. Kim’s team has been involved in similar studies for the past three years, and prepared for the competition for around nine months.
To encourage and evaluate the development of unmanned robotic boat technologies, the U.S. Office of Naval Research decided to organize the competition biennially. This year’s inaugural competition attracted a total of 15 university teams from five countries, Korea, the United States, Australia, Japan, and Singapore. From Korea, KAIST, Seoul National University, and Ulsan University competed.
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