This last week was a very exciting one for myself and the USC Underwater Robotics Team. We work all year on our autonomous underwater vehicle, SeaBee, in preparation for the International Robosub Competition. The competition this year ran from July 16th-22nd and is held at the US Naval Transdec facility in San Diego. The competition is sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR). You can check out more about the competition, including some cool videos and links to our technical paper and website here: http://www.auvsifoundation.org/foundation/competitions/robosub/
The competition requires teams to design and build autonomous underwater vehicles to complete tasks on a sort of underwater obstacle course. The first few days are for testing and qualifying for semi-finals. The semi-finals are held on Friday and Saturday, and in order to earn a slot at them a team must have their vehicle autonomously pass through a gate. We accomplished this on our very first run in the pool on Tuesday, putting us in a good position for the rest of the week. Unfortunately, that night we had an incident. One of the other teams accidentally hit SeaBee with their car while leaving the facility, knocking it off the cart and onto the pavement. The good news is that our mechanical design was pretty strong. In fact, the car was probably more damaged than our AUV. Nevertheless, we did spend the night reattaching some of the frame in preparation for the next day.
In the end we had a good semi-final run and passed through the gate, followed a path segment, and hit a buoy, all of which are tasks that earn points. We also placed very well in static judging, which is based on the technical paper, a presentation, a team video, and our website. We are looking forward to next year and are ready to step up to do even better when we represent USC Viterbi at RoboSub 2013!