ALPENA, Mich. (AP) -- Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary will host more than 60 teams this week from 18 states and 13 countries for an underwater robot competition.
The 13th annual Marine Advanced Technology Education Remotely Operated Vehicle International Competition takes place Thursday through Saturday. The competition is expected to bring hundreds of people to Michigan's northeastern Lower Peninsula, The Alpena News reported (http://bit.ly/UIWcoz ).
"These teams are the best of the best in their classes, competing against each other," said Sarah Waters, sanctuary education and outreach coordinator. "All the robots are designed differently and each team brings some different skill or design with them to the competition."
An opening ceremony takes place Thursday morning, when teams will be given an overview of the competition and start setting up. Teams will work with their robots in a large tank and judges will be evaluating their performance along with engineering and other factors.
The tank used for the competition holds 600,000 gallons of water. Spectators are encouraged to come and watch teams navigate through the missions on a live feed. An online stream of the competition also is expected, with updates posted on Marine Advanced Technology Education's website.
"This setting gives teams a feel of a ship on the water doing research, and forces them to deal with outside elements," Waters said. "It's very different from being in a warm pool indoors."
Tasks include identifying a shipwreck, collecting microbial samples from a sinkhole, inventorying invasive species and removing trash. Each team is evaluated on factors including the design, construction and performance of its ROV as well as communicating what they learned.
A Remotely Operated Vehicle simulator also will be open Thursday for teams and the public.