TOP TECHNOLOGY: Ipswich student Zoe Renando with her fellow QUT mechatronics students and their robotic boat design, which took third place in an international competition in Singapore.
TOP TECHNOLOGY: Ipswich student Zoe Renando with her fellow QUT mechatronics students and their robotic boat design, which took third place in an international competition in Singapore. QUT

QUT robot boat beats Singapore heat

IPSWICH robotics student Zoe Renando has helped a QUT team take out third place in an international race to develop the best robotic boat.

Zoe and her fellow mechatronics students were one of 15 international teams invited to compete in the RobotX championships in Singapore.

Each team were given the same inflatable frame and were tasked with developing their own software, sensors and hardware.

The robotic boats had to be capable of navigating, docking and detect-and-avoid missions on their own.

The QUT team, one of three Australian university entries, almost didn't make it to the finals thanks to Singapore's summer conditions.

QUT roboticist and team adviser Dr Matt Dundabin said a key sensor died in the boat's initial run in the water due to the impact of the humid heat.

On a second run in the water, an attempt to relieve the heat affecting the boat's control box led to water getting through an open cover when the skies opened up and began to pour rain.

The combination of setbacks meant the student team held very little hope of making it to the finals, Mr Dundabin said.

But they had collected enough points to scrape into the top six teams, securing a spot in the final.

Mr Dundabin said the team then made the risky decision to spend all night changing the code of the boat ahead of the final run.

Despite getting stuck on a jetty and not being able to finish, their last minute code change gave them enough points to come third out of the 15 teams invited to compete.

In an award ceremony on Sunday night, the team tied with a joint Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Olin College of Engineering team for best paper.

The team made their way back to Australia on Monday, and their boat will eventually join them to be used in QUT's research programs.

"I think it's very important that this technology gets advanced," Mr Dundabin said.