Billed as the fastest autonomous robotic boat race in the country, the 3rd Annual Great American River race is to be held at Kent County’s Millennium Park in Grandville, Michigan. Time trials will begin at 10am on Saturday, October 22, with the race running at 11am.
Over a period of seven weeks, nearly 70 high school students have been modifying, programming and testing the boats in readiness for the big day and the Michigan High School Robotics Association and the Grandville Academic Team Boosters have promised to give the spectators a run for their money.
The Great American River Race sets is one of only three like it in the world with the other events held in Germany and Japan. Twelve high school teams will compete and the race sponsor expects the fully autonomous boats to break all previous speed records.
TRAXXAS, the new sponsor, has provided the teams with the world’s fastest consumer RC boat as a base for their racers. These are 48” long and are powered by massive brushless water-cooled engines. Garmin has provided the on-board global positioning systems and Custom Electronics has chipped in with electronic control systems for the race.
Programming has been developed by Grandville High School students and each boat is capable of running more than a dozen programs concurrently. The three mile course race promises to be one where speed, skill and expertise combine on the same platform as the fully autonomous and computer controlled boats combat with wind, currents and natural obstacles.
Grandville Public Schools has been well known for its educational robotics and has grown from a single high school robotics team in 1998 to more than 30 teams now. The Grandville High School robotics team, the RoboDawgs, entered its 14th year of competitive robotics in 2011.
Mini Swamy is a contributing editor for SDNzone. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell