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It’s the first day of SAUVC and stepping into the hall, the first thing that struck me was the number and diversity of people that are participating in this competition. Even more diverse is the variety of vehicles that can be seen. This was surprising to me, I’ve always thought that there were really only a few ways you can construct a vehicle in order to optimise. Seeing all the vehicles has opened my eyes and mind to a whole new level of creativity and ingenious.

The first vehicle that caught my eye was one made by the Vishwakarma Institute of Technology. It caught my eye because the vehicle looked like it was almost completely handmade and there were only 4 thrusters as compared to the usual average of 6 thrusters. I later found out that they actually handmade most of the vehicle, buying only a few parts that they didn’t have on hand. They chose to use profile bars in this manner so that they could maximise the customisability of the thruster placement to get the best results. Because of this they are able to easily find the sweet spot, where they are perfectly balanced on all axis, something we had some trouble in especially in the pitch axis.

From Bangladesh, the Dhaka College students made a very intriguing vehicle. The whole vehicle is made of plastic and materials that are readily available anywhere. They chose the materials due to their light and naturally buoyant nature. The light blue hulls made the vehicle naturally stand out as it caught the sun’s rays. Their main hull is a Tupperware box and they have 4 ‘hulls’ that are essentially huge water containers that would be filled with water to maintain close to neutral buoyancy. The thrusters used is supposedly made for drones but surprisingly they have tried and tested it underwater and it works! This is not their full vehicle however, as they had some issues with immigration, and they are working to fly the remaining parts over. I hope they manage to get the parts over in time so they would be able to compete at their full capacity.

During the IEEE innovation competition, the judges asked each team what was 1 thing that made their vehicles stand out from all the others and I happened to overhear the answer of the City University of Hong Kong team 1. They said that their vehicle had special lights built into their system which would relay a series of light patterns to signal what was going on in the hull. I found this to be very innovative and smart as in SAUVC there is a time limit of 15 minutes and you would want to maximise your usage of the time as much as possible. Using this method, even if the vehicle was not tethered, you would know immediately what went wrong and would already be able to start correcting your mistake even while the vehicle is being brought back to the poolside by the divers.

All in all, it was an interesting day. There are many teams with a lot of potential and smart designs. I look forward to tomorrow where we will be able to see all the teams in action in the Qualifying rounds.