2021 MATE ROV Competition Season Q & A - January Update!

Q:  Will there be events this year?

A:  YES! There will be a MATE ROV Competition season this year. We met with the MATE Regional Competition Network of coordinators on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to discuss event scenarios and how all of us can ensure the health and safety of all participants. More on those scenarios and health and safety practices is included below.

Q: What are the dates and location of the 2021 MATE World Championship?

A: We are pushing the 2021 MATE World Championship to the last week of July/first week of August in an effort to put more of a buffer between the event and the virus (and to allow more time for vaccinations). We are working to confirm the exact dates and secure the location. We hope to share that information by the end of February, if not sooner. HINT: We are working with a venue in the Eastern Time Zone of the U.S.

Q:  Do you have any special plans for the World Championship?

A:  YES!  We are planning for two, overarching competition tracks:

  • IN-PERSON (for those teams that qualify and can/are willing to travel to the event)
  • TELEPRESENCE:  Remotely Connecting to Your Competition Experience (for those teams that are not able to attend in person for whatever reason - travel restrictions, concerns for COVID, etc.)
    • Engineering & Communication
      • Technical reports and company spec sheets – submitted in advance, as normal
      • Engineering presentations - via Zoom or other video conference platform
      • Marketing displays - submitted in advanced as pdfs or videos (more to come!)
    • Product Demonstrations and Safety Inspections

The initial registration for the World Championship will NOT differentiate between these two categories.  Once teams pass the initial EXPLORER class demonstration requirement and RANGER class Video demonstration, they will be invited to register to participate in the World Championship in one of these categories.  

We appreciate that there will be questions about TELEPRESENCE:   Remotely Connecting to Your Competition Experience.  Please know that we are currently working through the plans and will update you as we fine tune the details.  

Q:  Will awards be presented in each of these two overarching categories?

A:  Yes!  We will present awards in in each of these overarching categories.  

Q:  What about regional events?

A:  First, dates and locations of regional competitions will be posted on the individual regional web pages as soon as they are available.

Second, coordinators will offer one of the following Regional Event Scenarios:

    IN-PERSON, with restrictions and guidelines based on the most comprehensive of governing authorities and health organizations (see the next question below)

    REMOTE, similar to the World Championship’s TELEPRESENCE:  Remotely Connecting to Your Competition Experience defined previously

    HYBRID, a combination of IN-PERSON and REMOTE practices. For example, an event could look like this:

      REMOTE
        Engineering & Communication:

        Technical reports and company spec sheets – submitted in advance, as normal

        Engineering presentations - via Zoom or other video conference platform

        Marketing displays - submitted in advanced as pdfs or videos (more to come!)

      IN-PERSON

        Product Demonstrations and Safety Inspections
        With restrictions and guidelines based on the most comprehensive of governing authorities and health organizations (see the next question below)

Q:  How will you ensure the health and safety of all participants?

A:  We are developing HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDANCE FOR IN-PERSON EVENTS informed by government authorities and health organizations.  

Q:  What if the situation gets worse?

A:  We are prepared to cancel the World Championship and regional events.

Q:  What if my regional decides not to hold an event this season?

A:  MATE regional coordinators are under no obligation to hold an event this year.  We recognize that there are challenges that may be insurmountable; for example, governing authorities may not permit students to gather together or share equipment and supplies.  However, we at MATE HQ are committed to finding a pathway to the World Championship for regional RANGER or EXPLORER class teams that are interested in participating either in-person or remotely.  We will work with regional coordinators who are not holding events to identify those teams and permit them to register directly with the World Championship.  Those teams will be invited to advance to the event if they qualify; qualification will be similar to the current EXPLORER class demonstration requirement and RANGER class Video demonstration.

If your regional announces that it will not hold an event this year, please contact your regional coordinator for more information and next steps.

Q:  Are you looking at hosting any true telepresence (e.g., the ability to directly interact (often via computer mediation) with a physically real, remote environment experienced from the first-person point of view) or VR (virtual reality) events?

A:  We’re glad that you asked!  We’ve been working with our partners at the National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) on the 2021 MATE ROV Competition VR World:  Virtual Reality for Social Engagement.  We are creating a network of VR spaces focused on the MATE World Championship that can be accessed using a VR headset or in 2D using a keyboard and mouse to navigate.  We are currently planning to use AltSpace as our VR platform. 

The long-term goal is to increase participation with new virtual options that complement the existing structure of the MATE ROV Competition. Other priorities include:

  • Help to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the 2021 MATE ROV Competition season.
  • Provide a platform to actively engage students and mentors from around the world.
  • Facilitate the social interaction, peer-to-peer networking, and “shared experience” that students 1) are especially craving during this time of COVID and 2) value and appreciate about the MATE ROV Competition (“it’s the interaction amongst cultures and the collaborative spirit that makes MATE unique”).
  • Enable students and mentors to experience the event if they aren’t able to be there in person.

This VR World will also highlight MATE regional competition events and teams.

We are still working out the details, but we plan to broadcast the MATE World Championship livestream within the VR environment, as well as via Twitch and the MATE ROV Competition website, with no requirement to enter the virtual environment.

In addition to live video, we plan to present assets (e.g., company spec sheets) of the participating teams within the VR environment.

This is exciting new territory for us!  We appreciate your patience as we work through the details and develop the VR environment, including a Welcome Center that will launch soon and include information and resources (e.g., tutorials and instructions) to help orient participants and allow them to familiarize themselves with the VR environment.  The MATE ROV Competition website will also include a Landing Page with similar information and resources.


A work in progress: The MATE World Championship pool in AltSpace.


Q:  Wow! Anything else?

A:  Actually, yes!  We’re also working with NCAT and partners at Clemson University on an ROV Simulator that focuses on Mitigating the Catastrophic Impact of Climate Change on Coral Reefs by Eradicating Crown of Thorns Sea Stars (COTS)!  This will provide teams with an opportunity to practice their piloting skills while increasing their understanding of the impact that COTS have on coral reefs.   

The long-term vision is to create a bank or “menu” of scenarios for users to choose from when they enter the simulator environment.  Stay tuned for more – including the release of the simulator!

Q:  Anything else???

A:  Please don’t forget about the SATELLITE CHALLENGES!  These are separate from the MATE ROV Competition and open to ALL students around the globe! 

Please also see the 2021 MATE ROV Competition Season Q&A posted in October 2020 for more information. 

If you have specific logistics or event questions, please send an e-mail to jzande@marinetech.org or contact your regional coordinator.  Please post any technical, specifications, safety, or rules questions to the MATE Forums