IIT Madras Team Aritra Rocks the Global Njord Challenge 2023 with Marine Autonomy!

September 2, 2023
2 mins read
IIT Madras Team Aritra Rocks the Global Njord Challenge 2023

In a recent global competition that put the brightest minds to test, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) student team, Aritra, showcased their prowess by securing the third position in the Njord Challenge 2023. Hosted by the esteemed Norwegian University of Science and Technology, this unique contest invited students to design and construct autonomous ships.

The Njord – Autonomous Ship Challenge is not just another competition. It’s a platform where innovation meets marine autonomy. Participants from across the globe bring their vessels to the picturesque Trondheim’s fjord, competing in a series of intricate challenges. This year, the event witnessed participation from seven top-tier international teams, including the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.

Team Aritra, representing IIT Madras, consisted of four brilliant minds from the Department of Ocean Engineering’s Marine Autonomous Vessels (MAV) Laboratory. The team members, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim M, Mr. Amarnath Singh, Mr. Akash Vijayakumar, and Mr. Rakshin Ramesh, were under the expert guidance of Dr. Abhilash Sharma Somayajula and Prof. MA Atmanand. Additional support came from MAV Laboratory’s Mr. Prabhakaran Jay and Mr. Vallabh Deogaonkar.

In a statement, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, expressed, “This achievement underscores the potential for the Indian industry and startups to commercialize such innovations under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. I see a bright future for Team Aritra, perhaps even venturing into the startup ecosystem.”

The competition’s framework was designed to test autonomous surface ships in three critical areas: navigating autonomously in a channel marked by buoys, docking the vessel autonomously, and detecting and avoiding dynamic obstacles while adhering to waterway rules (COLREGS).

Speaking about their performance, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim shared, “Our team matched the global standards, especially excelling in the ‘dynamic collision avoidance task’. This particular task sparked interest among the judges, leading to in-depth discussions about the potential commercial applications of our algorithms.”

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Dr. Abhilash Sharma Somayajula, Assistant Professor, Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT Madras, lauded the team, “Participation in such global platforms allows our students to gain invaluable experience. Team Aritra’s success is a testament to the fact that our students stand shoulder to shoulder with their global counterparts.”

Highlighting the potential modifications, Prof. MA Atmanand mentioned, “Incorporating solar panels could address the limitation posed by finite battery capacity, making these vessels even more efficient.”

The applications of such autonomous vessels are vast. From ensuring the safety and security of the nation by monitoring strategic coastal locations to collecting data for climate change studies, the possibilities are endless.

Central to Team Aritra’s success was the unwavering support from sponsors like the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, Madras Chapter, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi. Their contributions played a pivotal role in turning Team Aritra’s aspirations into reality.

The Njord Challenge 2023 was more than just a contest for Team Aritra. It was a golden opportunity to represent India on a global stage, emphasizing the nation’s capabilities in marine autonomy. Competing against powerhouses like Istanbul Technical University, MIT, and the University of Lisbon, Team Aritra made India proud by clinching the third position.

The competition’s jury, a blend of experts from marine autonomy companies and marine authorities, included notable names like Kongsberg, Zeabuz, and ABB Marine. Their expertise ensured that the innovations presented were evaluated with precision.

The Njord Challenge 2023 has set a new benchmark in marine autonomy. With teams like Aritra leading the charge, the future of marine technology looks promising. As the world moves towards more sustainable and autonomous solutions, competitions like these play a crucial role in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

Rahul Somvanshi

Rahul, possessing a profound background in the creative industry, illuminates the unspoken, often confronting revelations and unpleasant subjects, navigating their complexities with a discerning eye. He perpetually questions, explores, and unveils the multifaceted impacts of change and transformation in our global landscape. As an experienced filmmaker and writer, he intricately delves into the realms of sustainability, design, flora and fauna, health, science and technology, mobility, and space, ceaselessly investigating the practical applications and transformative potentials of burgeoning developments.

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