A team from Edinburgh's Heriot Watt University has won the €8,000 ($12,677) first prize in the third annual international student autonomous underwater competition organised by the DGA French procurement agency and Britain's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
The Heriot Watt AUV photo credit: Yves Gladu
The idea behind the competition is to advance autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) technology.
This year six teams were vying for the first prize: ENSIETA and Télécom Bretagne/ENIB from France and Cambridge, Bath, Southampton and Heriot Watt universities from Britain.
Each had to develop and make an AUV which had to perform given tasks in a 50m long x 12.5m wide and 10-20m deep salt-water tank at IFREMER (French Research Insitute for Exploitation of the Sea) in Brest, France between July 7-11.
The tasks (going through a validation gate, touching a mid-water target and avoiding another, dropping a marker on a bottom target, detecting and mapping other bottom targets, surfacing on top of two co-located targets, mapping the whole pool and the objects in it) had to be performed autonomously, with no control, guidance or communication from a person or from any off-board computer including the GPS system.
The Heriot Watt robot was the only one which managed to achieve all the given tasks, the DGA said. Joint second prize (€3,000 each) went to ENSIETA and Bath.
The Heriot Watt AUV: smaller than you might have thought from the first photo! photo credit: F. Vrignaud