SMaRC took part in this year’s demonstrations in WASP at Gränsö Manor, Västervik on September 18-19, 2019. WASP, the Wallenberg AI Autonomous Systems and Software Program, is Sweden’s largest research programme.
The topic being considered is autonomous rescue services, on land and at sea, with lectures, exchange of experiences, workshops and demonstrations. Around 100 people gathered on shore, including the WASP board and management, doctoral students, master’s students, supervisors from the universities involved, representatives for the companies, the Swedish Sea Rescue Society, and the Fire and Rescue Service in Västervik.
– The challenges we are facing are similar, and we work with similar technology. There’s a lot we can learn from each other, says Ivan Stenius, principal investigator at SMaRC.
The underwater robot found it difficult to cope with seaweed, and the initial demonstration took place in the swimming pool. One of the main intentions of the tests and demonstrations in and around Gränsö Manor is this – to experience the unexpected, difficulties that students, doctoral students and scientists may not be able to predict from laboratory work and theory. Water splashed on the camera lens, rocking boats, gusts of wind, and tangled seaweed, to give a few examples.
– Welcome to the real world, as Jesper Tordenlid from Saab Combitech and responsible for WARA PS, the WASP arena for public safety, said in his introduction to the demonstrations.
WASP is the largest individual research investment in Sweden in modern time. It’s an initiative in basic research, education and recruitment within autonomous systems and software development with Linköping University as host. The WASP programme will continue in 11 years and end in 2026. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation provides SEK 3 billion of the funding, with further contributions from the participating universities and industrial companies.