7 August 2014 – BumbleBee Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (BBAUV) team, sponsored by Hallin Marine, entered the finals of Robosub 2014, and emerged 5th overall. Despite the stiff competition from 39 teams, BBAUV was the only one of 3 teams that could complete the most challenging acoustic task.
Robosub saw more teams competing this year, many of whom have much longer established teams and AUV development history than BBAUV. These include Cornell, University of Florida, and California University of Technology. The 2014 team competed this year with a brand new improved vehicle that was tested underwater for almost 600 hours. This included testing in the TechTank of US NOAA Southwest Fisheries and Scripps’ Institute of Oceangraphy.
Due to the limited 25 minutes of competition run and instability in vision tasks completion over past few practice days, the team focused on the acoustic localisation task. This task is highly applicable to industry and extremely challenging. It required the AUV to localise to the correct pinger, use computer vision to recognise the objects near it, activate the grabber arm to pick up those objects and finally, transporting it back to a pinger site.
The finals run saw the AUV successfully localising on the first try under 5 minutes, but Computer Vision was affected by the sunny weather. Specifically, thresholds values selected for vision, coupled with the downgraded USB webcams which have automatic settings that could not be disabled, resulted in difficulty detecting the objects. They also faced with DVL tracking issues with the vehicle going wayward upon launch time on their second and third tries. Nevertheless, the nerve wrecking final try with only 6 minutes left on the clock saw the AUV successfully surface atop of the correct pinger.
Team Captain Thomas Ng commented, “Improving over our previous results was no easy task. This outstanding achievement is the testament to the team’s technical strength and mental fortitude to overcome the many challenges before and during the competition. We could not have come so far without the support of our sponsors and home faculties in NUS.”
For more information, please visit the team website at bbauv.com or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bbauv. More videos of our competition experience can also be found on www.robosub.org.