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Olin Team Takes 4th Place in Robotic Sailing Competition

Olin College's robotic sailing team took fourth place overall in the International Robotic Sailing Regatta held June 9 - 13 in Gloucester, Mass.

Olin partnered with the City of Gloucester to host the event, known as "Olin Robotic Sailing," which drew a dozen college teams and six high school teams from the U.S. and Canada.

Sailbot 2013The University of British Columbia took top overall honors in the contest. "We were inspired by FIRST Robotics to take the concept to the sea," said Andrew Bennett, an Olin faculty member and organizer of this year's regatta, referring to the long-running national robotics competition aimed at high school students. "Not only is robotics fun, but it's also the next big disruptive technology and we need to develop the next generation's passion and expertise in this field."

The annual international robotic sailing competition began in 2006 as a senior project at the University of British Columbia. The contest challenges student teams to design and build robotic sailboats capable of operating autonomously in five on-water challenges testing speed, maneuverability and navigational capabilities. This is the second year Olin has participated. To help encourage younger teams, the Olin team created a "Olin Robotic Sailing Kit" which was offered at no charge to high school teams around the country. As an added encouragement, organizers this year added a one-meter hull class in addition to the traditional two-meter class. High school teams from as far away as Albuquerque, N.M., participated in this year's event, which doubled in size compared to last year.

Gloucester Harbor was chosen as the site for this year's competition due to its historic relationship with maritime activities. Competition organizers had extensive support from local business and community leadership as well as Endicott College, which provided hosting facilities. Event sponsors included Instron, Maplesoft and Nortek. A short video featuring the Olin team may be viewed here.