Marine Autonomy Challenge (MAChallenge)

Marine Autonomy Challenge (MAChallenge)

This exciting challenge is open to teams of students studying at UK universities. The first phase involves a video submission and the finals take place in November this year. Each qualifying team will be provided with an industry simulator to enable them to build the autonomous behaviours required to achieve a series of challenges. These will be carried out using a 2m catamaran that has been specially designed, built and equipped for MAChallenge – a cash prize of £2000 awaits the winning team. Our aim is to bring on the next generation of marine technologists and to encourage development and take-up of marine autonomous systems technologies in the UK.

Developing the UK’s Future Maritime Autonomy Technologists

Why are we launching MAChallenge?

A key mission of the MASG Council is to encourage young technologists and help develop careers that contribute to the future of the UK’s MAS industry.

The aim of the challenge is:

  • Focussed on autonomy (not platforms)
  • To get students thinking about how autonomy might address the problem of plastics in the ocean
  • To stretch the knowledge of the students and promote creative thinking
  • Encourage team working through a variety of individual skills
  • Connect the brightest young talent coming through the UK’s universities with the UK’s MAS Industry.


If you have any questions please email MAChallenge@maritimeindustries.org or visit our FAQs Page.


Competition Details

During the competition students will be required to develop the autonomous behaviours required to enable a powered surface vessel (catamaran) to undertake a series of challenges –challenges involving:

  • Remote Navigation
  • Remote Collision avoidance
  • Remote Mapping

The catch is that the teams will not have physical access to the vessel.


The MAChallenge consists of two phases:

Phase I – Video Submission

Phase II – Remote on-water competition


Phase I – Video Submission

  • Each team will need to make a 3 min video submission
  • Full details are at: https://www.maritimeindustries.org/Video-Submission-Guidelines
  • The video needs to include:
    • Introduction to team
      • Individual skills
    • Relevant experience/projects
    • Competition strategy
    • Views on what the key issues are likely to be
    • What the team would do with the prize



  • Expression of interest needs to be submitted by 12:00 9th April 2021
  • Videos must be submitted via Dropbox by 12.00 30th April 2021


Phase II – Remote on-water competition

  • The finalists will be announced 14 May 2021
  • Each team will then have around 6 months to develop and test their software
  • There will be an online event 15 September when the teams will outline their progress to a panel of industry participants
  • Culmination will be a remote on-water competition at Timsbury Lake Ship handling Centre, Hampshire
  • Each finalist team will have one day in between 22-26 November 2021 to carry out their final challenges at Timsbury Lake. Each team will have their own day - teams will not compete simultaneously.


Phase II – The Challenges

Challenge 1

  • Navigate around a track using a series of waypoints

Challenge 2

  • Take action as per Collision Regulations
  • Virtual Radar/ARPA input for tracking of other vessels

Challenge 3

  • Approach a berth and stop the vessel within 1m

Challenge 4

  • Locate and map an area of micro-plastics or pollution
  • Input from a virtual ‘sensor’

Challenge 5

  • Search a specified box area and position all floating targets within it

Please note all marking will be weighted towards fully autonomous solutions versus remote operation


What equipment will be provided to finalists?

  • An industry-standard simulation suite to develop and test their software
  • Remote access to a common platform comprising:
    • Catamaran GRP hull (ca. 2m long)
    • Propulsion system providing differential steering:
      • 2 x Blue Robotics T200 thrusters
      • Electronic speed controller (ESC)
      • Battery
    • Autopilot with GPS
    • Sensor payload with camera
    • Micro-PC on to which the team’s software will be loaded
    • Comms
  • Each team will also be proved with an ‘expert’ industry mentor and don’t forget there is a prize of £2,000 waiting for the winning team!



MAChallenge Key Dates

Date (2021)


9 April

Deadline for submission of Expression of Interest

30 April

Deadline for submission of videos

14 May

Announcement of finalists

15 September

Industry engagement webinar/event

22 – 26 November

On-water finals week at Timsbury Lake

If you have any questions please email MAChallenge@maritimeindustries.org


With thanks to the companies that have taken up:

Gold Sponsorship

Gold sponsors 12.04.2021-02


Silver Sponsorship

 Silver Sponsor-05


Bronze Sponsorship

 Ma Bronze Sponsors 12.04-04


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