A Competition for Robotic Speedboats

A project log for Low-Cost, Waterjet-Powered Robotic Speedboats

This project focuses on the development of open-source, low-cost, waterjet-powered robotic speedboats for education and research

New DexterityNew Dexterity 10/24/2021 at 13:020 Comments

In this log, we present a competition for robotic speedboats. The competition's main purpose is to engage participants in mechanical design and autonomous control and system design. There are similar competitions to this one but they use less dynamic environments (i.e. on ground or in flat waters). These competitions ultimately have the same goals but all of them have a much higher budget cap, reducing the target audience.

The powertrain, hull size, and hydrofoiling should be regulated as they dramatically increase the cost of the platform and would offer advantages to teams with higher budget caps. Since this is a competition intended for learning, the hull design and waterjet design are free for each participating team to modify.


There are two types of challenges in this competition, static and dynamic. Static challenges are challenges that can be completed without the boat running. This includes deliverables like a design report, and the cost optimization challenge. These challenges are intended to make participants go through a proper design process and think about how different designs can affect the performance of the platform. More points are awarded to a lower cost platform. The design report is used to encourage teams to explain the methodology behind their design and is judged based on depth of technical knowledge and completeness of the design process. The second type focuses on dynamic challenges. These are challenges that require the boat to run with full autonomy. These challenges include a drag race to dictate hull and jet efficiency via acceleration and top speed in a straight line. The drag race consists of a starting gate and a buoy located at a distance. Each boat is timed to evaluate how long the boat takes to reach the buoy and return to the starting gate. Then there is the sprint race which aims to evaluate performance of the boat over dynamic conditions, including pitch and yaw control and roll stability. For the sprint race each boat autonomously navigates itself around an unknown course with colour coded buoys that help with navigation. The final event is the endurance event where each boat is run over a long distance to test the robustness of the autonomous algorithm and the boat efficiency and robustness. An example layout of the competition course can be seen above.


The scoring for individual challenges (S_ch) in the competition is calculated from the teams score in a challenge (S), the best performer for that challenge (T_s), and the maximum available points for that challenge (Max_ch), as reported in Table \ref{table2}. This formula can be seen in the equation below, where the final score associated with a challenge is calculated. The overall competition score for a team (S_total) is calculated from the formula seen below and is the sum of all the points from all challenges.