Robosub 2014 – Day 7

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Yesterday was the second and last semi-finals run for our team to qualify for the finals. We had to complete more obstacles to be sure to qualify. We managed to grab a test at 11h40 to make sure our settings we’re working.

At 11h40, we entered the water. The first two tries didn’t work, so we had to get back to the deck and modify our mapping of the zones. After, we managed to navigate to the pinger zone, but our navigation couldn’t go straight forward due do the distance of the zone. It followed a curve path, passing over the deeper part of the pool, resulting in faulty readings from our navigation and pinger sensors. We decided to manually adjusted the position and try the pinger mission. We were able to surface in the correct octagon.

After this test, we decided that the most secure way to navigate to the pinger was to follow a zones path using all the other obstacles. We adjusted our settings and we then waited for our qualification run at 14h00.

We we’re in the water at exactly 14h00 for our run. The vehicle quickly passed through the gate, but a small offset caused the vehicle to head to the wall. We quickly killed it and brought it back to the deck. We modified our zones mapping and started over again. The vehicle passed through the gate again, hit the RGB buoy on the right color, and then navigated to the pinger zone while following the new path that we worked on. Everything went exactly as we hoped and the vehicle surfaced into the correct octagon after the longest three minutes in the world.

The mission ended and we ran out of time. We are extremely proud of our qualification run and we are getting ready for the finals!

Robosub 2014 – Day 6

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Yesterday was held the first semi-final round. It was the opportunity for the teams to qualify for the sunday’s final run. We were able to get a test run at 11:30 to double check our last adjustments.

The goal of the first test was to be able to ensure that the droppers’ task parameters were set and ready to go. Once in the water, we realized that our DVL wasn’t responding anymore. It took 15 minutes to fix the problem, so half our test was gone by that time. A wire loose in its socket was the cause of this problem.

At 15:00 was scheduled our qualification run. Our strategy was to pass the gate, hit one buoy, then head to the bins and finish with the pinger task. Unfortunately, our submarine got tangled in the RGB buoys’ cable.

Because of this, we lost precious seconds and our zone mapping was off. We missed the bins by a few meters on the left.

After the bins timeout, the vehicle moved to get in position for the pinger obstacle. For an unknown reason, the submarine surfaced out of nowhere, therefore ending our qualification run. In the end, we got points for straight gate, one path and the RGB buoy.

Later, we got the results for the static judging. We finished in fourth place behind Cornell University, University of Florida and McGill University. We are proud of our result due to the number of teams competing this year.

In the evening, we worked very hard to find the source of the surfacing. Finally, we found that our thrusters drive stopped responding. Our control system was sending commands to the thrusters, which were not responding. We had to implement a fix and test it in the pool. We are very confident that we permanently fixed this problem.

Robosub 2014 – Day 5

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Today was the third and last testing day. The first test of the day was scheduled at 9:15 this morning. We tried to complete the buoy, the fence and the bins obstacle during this test but we we’re unable to do so. Light conditions we’re making things really difficult for the vision system. After speaking with several other teams, we concluded that this was a problem that almost every team was experiencing. We had to rethink our strategy for the rest of the day.

Numerous modifications we’re made on several mission behaviors during the day, to ensure that we would make good use of our second test later in the afternoon.

Éric Arsenault, from Asset Science, LLC (, one of our sponsors stopped by after lunch to see the vehicle and to give us some advices and encourage us.

Later that afternoon was scheduled our static judging. We presented our vehicle in front of a dozen judges. We received some pretty good feedback on our professionalism and on our platform from the judges, which makes us very proud.

A bit later at 6:15pm, was our second and last test of the day. We tried to complete a full course to prepare for the semi-finals. Unfortunately, we could not map our zones of interest properly. We had to quickly react and change our strategy. We chose to do some mapping of the zone instead for the remaining time of the test. During the last minutes of the test, we try the pinger obstacle. It was the first time that we tried this task with the 33 kHz frequency and it was a success on the first try without changing any parameters.

We are very eager to get to the site tomorrow for the semi-finals and we are very confident about being able to qualify for the finals.

Since the wide variety of devices aboard, the submarine requires different voltage and power. The power management system spreads the electrical demand across different power channels. Every system is located inside the main hull. The commands are given by the computer, but in case of any emergency, the diver can easily kill the submarine with the kill switch. A mission switch is also installed, enabling an easy activation of the autonomous mode.


In order to accomplish its tasks, the submarine must be equipped with a variety of sensors. The position is monitored by a DVL, a depth sensor and an INS. The obstacles are then detected with the cameras, the sonar and the passive sonar system. Following the acquisition of all the data, it moves toward its goals with its six thrusters. Finally, the pneumatic system allows many actions to take place like grabbing objects and launching torpedoes.