Judges Announced for MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge Semi-Finals

ASPIRE, the technology programme management pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) and the organiser of MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge, has announced the judges and jury that will evaluate the whitepapers submitted by teams from all over the world. The competition, which aims to solve the real-world issues of piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing will be held in Abu Dhabi in June 2023.

The panel comprises six eminent scientists representing different fields of robotics, who come from various parts of the world. In the process of shortlisting the whitepapers, the judges will accord 40 per cent weightage to a team’s technical qualifications, while their proposed approach to solving the challenge will carry 60 per cent weight.

“The entire process – from the selection of teams to the execution of the final competition – is being carried out meticulously. When you think about the potential impact, we hope the solutions developed will have on the critical issues of piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing, we want the best out there judging it. The MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge will set a milestone in the advancement of autonomous technology,” said Dr. Arthur Morrish, Chief Executive of ASPIRE.

“Our judges have unquestionable credentials and expertise across various disciplines that are relevant to this challenge. We are confident that their contributions will go a long way in realizing our aims to push the boundaries of autonomous robotics.”

The jury for the preliminary phase comprises:

  • Dr. Allan Steinhardt, Chief Scientist at AEye, Inc., USA
  • Dr. Cesare Stefanini, Professor & Head of Creative Engineering Design Lab at Faculty of BioRobotics Institute of SSSA, Italy
  • Dr. Francesco la Gala, expert in autonomous robotics, based in Italy
  • Dr. Robert Hummel, Chief Scientist and Vice President of Research at Potomac Institute, USA
  • Dr. Eric Krotkov, Chief Science Officer at Toyota Research Institute, USA.

The judging panel for the final selection is H.E. Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC; and Dr. Tony Tether, former Director of DARPA.

Dr Morrish stressed that partnership and collaboration are key to meeting global challenges. “With a jury comprising world-renowned experts to support us, we are looking forward to receiving fresh, exciting ideas to revolutionize the industry and resolve nagging maritime-security issues.”

Hundreds of participants from around the world have registered for the competition since its announcement in October of last year. The high volume of entries, coupled with requests for additional time from some contestants, were taken into consideration for the extension of the deadline for the whitepaper submission until January 31, 2022.

The Maritime Grand Challenge, part of the Mohammed Bin Zayed International Robotics Competition (MBZIRC) series, is open to universities, research institutions, companies and individual innovators. The challenge will involve a heterogeneous collaboration among unmanned aerial and surface vehicles, requiring them to perform complex navigation and manipulation tasks in a GNSS-denied marine environment.

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