Arthur Morrish, CEO of ASPIRE - the technology programme management pillar of Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) - said that the Mohamed bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge, to be held in June 2023, aims to push the boundaries of independent systems to create practical solutions to maritime security challenges, such as piracy, smuggling and illegal fishing.
In a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Morrish said that the competition will explore new aspects of maritime robotics by helping develop the first diversified coordination system between unmanned aircraft and ships in environments where global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) don't work.
He explained that the Challenge also seeks to help achieve the UAE's goal to create a knowledge-based economy, as well as enhance the role of Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, in general, as an emergent hub for advanced technological innovations in safety and security areas.
Morrish noted that selecting contestants is a three-stage process. During the White Paper Phase (three months), each team is required to submit a report by 30th December, 2021, describing the team, its background in swarm robotics, computer vision, simultaneous localisation and mapping, marine vehicles and communications, along with a proposed technical approach.
During the Simulation Phase (Six months), which will take place in August 2022, shortlisted teams will complete inspection and intervention tasks via simulation in the presence of a judging committee, he added, noting that the teams will have to submit proof-of-concept videos on different subcomponents of their system to demonstrate its feasibility.
As for the Demonstration of System Capabilities Phase (Nine months), scheduled for June 2023, he said that live demonstrations will be held over several days in a specially designated marine area off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where the five finalist teams will put their systems to the test.
Morrish explained that this edition of the Challenge will not be limited to local competitors, as it will include universities, research institutions, companies and innovators from around the world.
The competition's prize money totals US$3.25 million, with US$2 million going to the winning team, $500,000 to the second place, and $250,000 to the third.
A prize worth $500,000 will also be divided among all teams that advance to the Demonstration Phase.