Students from 15 major universities representing the United States, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and South Korea will compete October 20 - 26 in the AUVSI Foundation's Maritime RobotX Challenge in Singapore. The Office of Naval Research has equipped each team with an unpowered Wave Adapted Modular Vessel (WAM-V), along with grants to rig the vessels with customized battery-powered propulsion systems, sensors, computers, and software. The purpose of the challenge is to foster innovation as students develop their skills in autonomous command and control and systems engineering while collaborating with the engineers and organizations that develop the required sensors. Teams will battle for the $100,000 cash prize by completing a series of tasks to demonstrate navigation and control; obstacle detection and avoidance; docking and target identification; underwater search for an acoustic source; and observation, identification and reporting of a specified target.

The 16’ WAM-V USV platform, designed and manufactured by Marine Advanced Research, Inc. in Richmond, CA, is extremely well suited for autonomous operations. “The lightweight and highly maneuverable WAM-V is the ideal platform for this competition,” says Mark Gundersen, President and CEO of the company. “The modular construction allows the WAM-Vs to be easily customized, transported, and assembled.” These flexible catamarans lend themselves to a variety of applications beyond the competition. WAM-Vs, from 12’ to 100’, can be employed internationally for ocean sensor deployment and retrieval; port surveillance and security; MPA monitoring and enforcement; UUV deployment and retrieval; nodal communications; maritime domain awareness; maritime interdiction operations; and offshore oil and gas operations. Most recently, Marine Advanced Research partnered with Google to map the first comprehensive coast-view experience of the San Francisco waterfront.

Marine Advanced Research was founded in 2004 by a small group of Silicon Valley innovators. For the past decade, they have continued to design, manufacture, and test both manned and unmanned WAM-Vs – an innovative class of watercraft based on their patented technology.

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