The goal is to make a data acquisition and processing platform for the next vehicle of SONIA (Autonomous and Intelligent Nautical Operating System). SONIA is a university project composed of volunteer students. The goal of this organisation is to build an autonomous underwater vehicle in order to compete in the AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) and ONR's (Office of Naval Research) International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition. The data acquisition and processing platform has the job of interfacing all the custom build sensors and actuators to the decision center.
In the previous vehicles, this task was done by an array of 8 bit microcontrollers communicating with each other through the CAN (Controller Area Network) bus. By breaking down every element into simple ones, the design of the hardware and software is greatly simplified. Also, this topology allowed each circuit to be fully independent, and thus could be removed if a problem occurred. Finally, project management was much easier a circuit had no impact on another.
Since SONIA is building a new submarine, it was decided that this architecture had to be modified in order to solve some issues. First, the array of independent circuits makes the system very complex. Although the submarine can function even if a circuit is broken, it impacts the mission capabilities of the submarine. Since every circuit (hardware and software) is different, the debugging is unique to each one. Finally, the access to the various hardware is complicated since it is scattered throughout the submarine.
Ever wanted to know more about the autonomous submarine of team SONIA? Our team is organizing a free public demonstration on Saturday October 16, 2010 8pm at the pool of Collège Édouard-Montpetit in Longueuil. A free shuttle will leave ETS' main hall of pavilion A at 7h30pm. The shuttle will be back around 10pm. Free snacks and beverages will be offered during the demonstration. To participate simply send us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Team SONIA is also recruiting ! We are looking for new talented student in electrical, mechanical and software engineering. You can learn more about the project in our AUV section. If you are interested come and see us at A-1716, right beside the Foucault pendulum.
Finally, the day we have all been waiting for has arrived. On that cloudy Sunday morning, we woke up a little bit later than the previous days. We already had our practice run schedule for 10am so we did not need to arrive at 6am. The team woke up at 7h30am and departed for the TRANSDEC at 8am. The practice run went well. We manage to complete the following obstacles: Gate – Pipe – Buoys in the correct order – Pipe – Hedge – Pipe. Than the vehicle navigated towards the bins and found them but our decision software crashed. We quickly found that it was a null pointer exception. We decided to fix it later and practice for the pinger task. This also worked really well so we were very happy and were waiting for the final run at 3h15pm.
During the final run we had a lot of trouble with the metal cube under the dock. That cube affected our compass and we had trouble passing the gate. We had to try several times in order to simply pass the gate. The submarine would simply not go straight. The most frustrating part was that we did not have any problem at all with the cube during the practice run in the morning or during the qualifying run the day before. After 4 minutes, we finally managed to go straight and pass the gate. We then aligned on the first pipe and navigated towards the buoys. The selected buoys were green and yellow. The submarine managed to find the correct buoys and hit them in the correct order but it took a long time to do so. We then aligned on the next pipe and navigated towards the hedge. This went really well and we quickly found the next pipe. The submarine aligned over the correct pipe and started to navigate toward the bins. After navigating, the vehicle started a search pattern. We were almost over the bins when something bad happened, the software responsible of doing the communication between the decision center and the electronics crashed. The submarine simply surfaced and our 15 minutes time was almost up. We decided to take this autonomous run. Of course, the team was a little bit disappointed but we were still very happy to be able to do a better run than last year.
You can watch the video from our sub marine right here.
Congratulation to Cornell University. They took the first place with a very nice autonomous run. US Naval Academy got in second place and University of Maryland got the third place.
The final ranking :
- 1st: Cornell ($6,000 Prize)
- 2nd: U.S. Naval Academy ($5,000)
- 3rd: University of Maryland ($2,250)
- 4th: ETS ($1,750)
- 5th: Amador Valley High School ($1,000)
- 6th: University of Texas at Dallas ($1,000)
- 7th: Kyushu Institute of Technology ($1,000)
- University of Central Florida: Second Chance Award ($,1000)
- San Diego City College: Best Group Presentation ($500)
- Reykjavik University: Determination Award ($500)
We hope to see everyone back next year at the 14th Robosub competition. Keep up the good work everyone!
The recap of the final is available here.
Today was the second qualifying day. We arrived early to make sure we would be able to get as much practice as possible. We arrived at 5h35am and Cornell was already there with the team from North Korea. It was obvious we would not be alone opting for this strategy. About 5 minutes later, the team from Dallas arrived and several other teams arrived around 6am.
Since we were the third team to arrive on site, our first practice slot was at 8h30am. The team from North Korea found out they had problem so they asked if they could exchange practice slots with us. Of course, we accepted so they could get a little more time to fix their submarine. We did our first test at 8h am. The test went well. We manage to complete several obstacle and we were confident that we could do well for our second qualification at 2h30pm.
Once we got out of the water, we reserve a second practice slot. The earliest available was at 4pm. At that point, we were trying to tweak the mission we wanted to complete during the qualification. The team from McGill University came to see us around 9am. They wanted to give us their practice slot because they had problems and they were not able to go in the water, so we had the chance to go in the water again at 11am. Around 10am, University of Florida also came to see us, they wanted to trade practice slot, again we accepted and we traded our 4pm slot for their 12h30pm slot. We were very happy because we manage to complete 3 practice runs before the second qualification. We were even able to reserve another practice slot at 5h30pm when we got out of our third practice slot. This was a very busy morning, but overall we did a good job to prepare for the qualification.
The qualification run finally came. We manage to do the following obstacles. Gate – Pipe – Buoys in the correct order – Pipe – Hedge – Pipe. At that point, the submarine was supposed to go in the middle of the pool to complete the pinger obstacle. Instead, the submarine started to head for the wall so we decided to stop the run and take those points. We were pretty confident that we would qualify for the final and were very happy of this autonomous run.
At the end of the day the results were in. We were qualified for the final and were currently in 3rd position. We were the only Canadian team who manage to get to the final.
You can see the video of the second qualifying run coming directly from the camera of the submarine. You can see that the difference between the yellow and the green buoy is very hard to tell. Our vision algorithms still managed to find the correct one.
You can also watch the recap of the second qualification day.
Today, we arrived on site at 6h00. We got a practice spot for 8h00. The goal was to test our qualification run mission. We managed to do gate, pipe, buoys, pipe, hedge, pipe and the first bin. Unfortunately, our time was up as we dropped in the bin so the run ended there.
At 11h00, our team was up for the static judging. It went really well. This year, the format was changed to a more formal style. It was interesting to be isolated from all the other competitors, and it helped to have a PowerPoint as a visual aid. We sure hope it made the presentation interesting.
We then went to test our passive sonar. It was pleasing to see that it was working perfectly, and that test allowed us to acquire the right settings for the qualification run.
Afterwards, we set ourselves the goal to finish the JAUS challenge in order to get full points. We tried once, but could not complete the test with the submarine because we had computer problems. It started rebooting in loop. We managed to finish the challenge, but with our vehicle simulator. This gave us 720 points on a possible 800 points. The computer stopped rebooting so we were ready to try it again. The JAUS staff was kind enough to allow us to do the test in a small test pool. This made it much easier to demonstrate that our submarine respected the standard. This gave us the remaining 80 points that we were missing. This finished not a moment too soon because our qualifying run was 15 minutes later.
We did not complete the mission we programmed for our qualification run because of several factors. Never the less, we managed to do gate, pipe and buoys. We are working throughout the night to take care of these problems.
Last but not least, we had to choose our spot for the second qualification run. The priority was based on our static judging score. This includes the technical accomplishments, the craftsmanship and the team uniform. We got second place. Our team is extremely happy with this result. Congratulations to Cornell University for their first place.
Don’t forget to check our twitter for quick updates