P18250: Smart Buoy

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

Phase Vision:

The plan for Phase 1 is to fully define and understand the problem we will be addressing in MSD I and II, as well as build a framework for team dynamics and lay groundwork for working together over the duration of the project. This will be accomplished by completing all of the phase deliverables. We also plan to start initial research into components in order to judge the feasibility and scope of the project, and be able to adequately plan things moving forward.

Phase Accomplishments:

This phase heavily relied on communication with our customers, which led to development of our understanding of the problem specifically in the form of “customer requirements”. Working with the customers, we then further developed these into a list of “engineering requirements. These were the most critical aspects of this phase, but the importance of the other deliverables cannot be understated. Also after some initial research and discussions with customers, it was determined that the scope, budget, and other key constraints would be manageable. The team successfully completed all of the Phase 1 deliverables to the best of our ability, and this effort is expected to pay off in the long run as it laid a strong foundation for this project to be built on.

Project Summary

A ‘Smart Buoy’ is a small autonomous marine vehicle that can be controlled by a user to navigate to GPS coordinates and has the ability to maintain the desired location. There are many industrial, commercial, scientific, and recreational applications for this technology; however, for sailing specifically, there is a frequent need to adjust buoy locations as prevailing winds shift throughout a day of racing. Currently in the sport, the race committee must send boats out to manually adjust buoy locations which is time consuming and labor intensive.

The goal of this project will be to develop a prototype of a ‘smart buoy’ specifically for sailboat racing, as well as develop a technology and concepts that can be applied to other autonomous marine vehicle applications. The resulting prototype must be durable and able to operate for an entire day of racing, withstand environmental and surface conditions, be easy to control and set up, and follow coast guard laws and regulations.


Use Cases

Scenario #1: Sailboat Race
Use Case Scenario #1 Diagram

Use Case Scenario #1 Diagram

Scenario #2: Coast Marker

Scenario #3: Waves too intense for safe operation

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

Project Goals: Produce a device that allows race organizers to control buoy location remotely from shore or from a committee boat using a user friendly interface. The device will comply with Coast Guard and local regulations and be portable.

Key Deliverables: - A functional prototype which will remain at RIT for continued use in future projects

- Appropriate design, test, and manufacturing documentation

- Test data verifying correct operation

- Designs alternatives

- Other possible configurations

- Other possible use environments

- User’s guide for operation

Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer Requirements are summarized in the following table:

Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

The CR Excel file can be found here.

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Engineering Requirements are summarized in the following table, created from the Customer Requirements and benchmarking research:

Engineering Requirements

Engineering Requirements

The ER Excel file can be found here.

Key Constraints/Operating Conditions



Operating Weather Conditions:

Up to 3ft waves and 15kts of wind

Deployable by 2 people:

Max Weight of 100lb

Transportable by pickup truck bed:

Footprint less than 6ft x 5ft

Must follow coast guard laws and regulations
Safe to operate and interact with:

Can withstand collisions without being damaged or causing damage Electrical components properly insulated Proper protection from moving mechanical components and incorporates safeguards for improper operation

House of Quality

The House of Quality below identifies the customer requirements being addressed by each of our engineering requirements:

House of Quality

House of Quality

The House of Quality Excel file can be found here.

Risk Management

The working Risk Management file can be found here.

Design Review Materials

The Design Review Preread can be found here.The Design Review presentation can be found here.

Plans for next phase

Phase 1 Project Plan

Phase 1 Project Plan

The Gantt chart can be found here.

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