By Thomas Joosten.

Last week on the 20th and 21st of September was the day of truth, our first real trial course. Roughly a week earlier we came together to decide whether we would give the first course a go, or not. We still had a lot of loose ends that needed to be taken care of: Safety jackets, website forms, texts for the website, the course material, confirming the course location, etcetera etcetera. Above all, we still needed participants.

Thomas had arranged for Bo and Caroline to join the organization. Bo would help with the marketing and Caroline with the organization. We had not yet promoted the course dates as we were not sure whether we would finish all the preparations on time. Maybe it was the weather or the good food, but we decided to just go for it.

Wouter, Daan, Thomas lunch to discuss the go/no-go

We all promoted and invited people from our network. Thomas also posted the video of Daan, explaining the functions of the home-made brain of the self-steering boat. After the video and the invites, an overwhelming response followed… We had reactions coming in from all sorts of Developers from different companies like Artificial industry, The Mobile Company, Plot Projects and more. But also individual tech savvies were replying. It is amazing to get such positive feedback after all those preparations and to be fully booked on the first course.

Moment of truth

A few days before the course, the weather changed and the first autumn storms were announced. The original plan was to sail on Friday. Would we still be able to make it? Or would we have to test the self-steering algorithm on Thursday?

The weather predictions

On Thursday we started with the course. We arrived early at the scene. After a short while, the first participants arrived.

The location: The Regatta Center in the harbor of Muiderzand

We started with 7 participants, early in the morning. Daniel and Wouter kicked off the course. We started off with a general introduction to Machine Learning and what to expect from the course. After that, we got deeper into the material, with a closer look at the differences between Machine learning, Deep learning, and Ai. From there, we had lunch with some well-prepared sandwiches.

Wouter and Daniel presenting

Participants enjoying their lunch

After lunch, we got into algorithms and how to apply them. This made it possible to carry on with the first assignment by the end of the day: to use the data to build the algorithm to steer the boat. A simulator, built by Wouter, showed how the algorithms performed.

Wouters simulator

The weather forecast for the next day wasn’t looking so good. There were heavy winds and rainfalls predicted. Even though all the participants were willing to give sailing a try.

2nd Day Ai captain. Storm Ahead

This is what the weather looked like the morning before we left home.

The morning was spent on working further on the algorithms and testing them. Around noon everybody was stoked to test the algorithms in real life. Luckily, the wind started to change and subsided. This meant it was time to test the waters.

“The Brains” of the boat, applying the algorithm to the steering.

 

Seeing the algorithm doing his thing while sailing is amazing.

Would the steering algorithm work? Exciting, isn’t it? Check out if it works in the video below: