MIL Needs Your Help to Defend RobotX World Championship

Students from the Machine Intelligence Lab (MIL) are looking for assistance in getting to Hawaii to defend their Maritime RobotX World Championship. By supporting MIL now, you can help students in the lab Go Greater while providing them with an inestimable learning experience.

In 2016, UF MIL’s team defeated competitors from all over the world in the Maritime RobotX Challenge, winning the world championship. Prior to 2016, UF had never participated in the competition, though the lab had participated in a number of other global competitions—in 25 world championships, MIL was in the top three 14 times. The prestigious Maritime RobotX competition poses a number of tasks to waterborne “autonomous mobile agents,” which are loaded with computers, batteries, multiple cameras, LIDAR, and even a racquetball launcher. The boats are not remotely controlled—they utilize artificial intelligence to ‘think’ for themselves and to complete the tasks for which they are programmed. Tasks include pattern recognition and firing a racquetball through a target while remaining stationary in the unpredictable current.

MIL Director Eric Schwartz is quick to point out that getting a team of students and a technologically complex boat to Hawaii is “a logistical nightmare.” The boat and equipment must be disassembled, shipped to Hawaii, reassembled, tested, and then readied for the competition. The operation of the autonomous mobile agent requires an entire team of students, no less than seven or eight, all of whom would need hotel accommodations and meals. It’s no small undertaking.

The MIL lab is a real hands-on learning experience for students and a chance to work intensively on a team. Schwartz relates that the championship team included three first-semester freshman. The three later found themselves major contributors on a world championship team, holding giant checks in Hawaii.

At MIL, undergrads work side by side with grad students, and there are no real requirements for working in the lab, except for a willingness to work on a team. Learn more about the competition, the boat, and the program in the video above.

Want to support MIL’s efforts to get to Hawaii and defend their world championship? Make a difference now in a student’s education by donating to MIL. You can do so directly using the UF Foundation giving link.