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Open Robotics to provide open-source simulator for UAE int’l robotics challenge

The Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge will take place in 2023. The simulator is already available online

Photo courtesy MBZIRC
Photo courtesy MBZIRC

ASPIRE, the technology program management arm of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), announced that Open Robotics will be providing the open-source simulator for the Simulation Phase of the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC) Maritime Grand Challenge.

Open Robotics, which focuses on software for robotics simulation and application development, will build the simulation platform on Gazebo and Robot Operating System (ROS). Gazebo is an open-source 3D robotics simulator with a robust physics engine, advanced 3D graphics and programmatic interfaces.

The technology will incorporate historic weather data from the Swiss-firm meteoblue for the upcoming phase of the competition, which will see semi-finalists complete inspection and intervention tasks in simulation.

To simulate realistic weather conditions, meteorological service company meteoblue will allow competitors to use historical Abu Dhabi weather data from the past 20 years.

The simulation environment will consist of a large coastal region, UAVs with different sensor configurations, a USV model, a robot manipulator, and multiple target vessels. A set of ROS 2 APIs – or Application Programming Interfaceswill be exposed for controlling robots and reading data from sensors in simulation.

“We are making all the software open source,” said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, acting Chief Executive of Aspire. “Our mission is to drive the creation of transformative technologies and encourage global collaboration to help stimulate innovation across the field of maritime robotics. Sharing the technology to help make innovation easier was our goal.”

“In our effort to be the hub of the global robotics community, we create open software and hardware platforms for robotics that can be used by the scientific community to solve important problems,” said Open Robotics Co-Foudner and CEO Brian Gerkey.

“The MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge is a fantastic example of this, and we’re really excited to be a part of the competition,” he commented.

Held every two years, MBZIRC is an international robotics competition which draws universities, research institutions, companies, and individual innovators from around the world to develop solutions to some pressing global challenges through the application of autonomous robotics.

By providing an environment to foster innovation and technical excellence in robotics, MBZIRC supports the UAE’s transition to a knowledge economy while consolidating Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s position as an emerging hub of innovation in advanced technology.

The MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge simulator is available at

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