Three SoC students were part of Team BumbleBee, the team of eight from NUS that outperformed numerous other international competitors to claim 7th place at the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) Foundation and U. S. Office of Naval Research (ONR)’s 16th International RoboSub Competition, in San Diego, California, in late July.

BBAUV 2013

BBAUV 2013

By challenging young engineers to design and build machines to execute realistic underwater assignments, the competition encourages advancements in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) technology and affords the new generation of engineers opportunity to connect with organisations involved in AUV development. The AUVSI Foundation reports that the annual competition has been effective in attracting students into the field of maritime robotics and maintaining their interest and enthusiasm in careers in science and technology.

According to Eng Wei*, “The aim of the competition was to build a fully autonomous underwater vehicle or robot that was capable of thinking and functioning completely on its own. It had to possess the vehicle dynamics required in submersibles, with an added intelligence factor. The competition required the AUV to complete a couple of complex tasks involving Computer Vision, Manipulation (such as grabbing things and firing torpedoes) and Acoustics.” – (More of Eng Wei’s experience here!)

Louis and Eng Wei in foreground

Louis and Eng Wei in foreground

Jonathan heard about BBAUV and, considering his background in Computer Science, thought that it would be a good opportunity to gain some hardware exposure as well as indulge his existing interest in robotics. He joined the team as a software engineer and was tasked with developing BBAUV’s computer vision and general software systems. When prompted about challenges he faced during the project, Jonathan admitted, “Computer vision is a difficult problem, and we faced many problems trying to discern colours underwater under varying lighting conditions. In addition, the scale of this project ended up being much larger than I originally imagined. Because of this, I learnt much by taking part in this project. In the end, it was an enriching experience for me, and getting into the finals was very rewarding.”