More so than ever before, TRANSDEC was filled with energy, excitement, and anxiety. Local visitors were tent-hopping to understand what the competition was about, film crew from various media organizations were capturing the moment, and the mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, showed his approval of the merit and collaboration of teams gathering from across the globe to solve a challenge.
The score chart towards the end of the 1st semi-final day. Cornell leading with approximately 6000 pts.
This year, we can truly say that the biggest challenge in the RoboSub competition is the layout of the obstacle course itself. In previous years, select few top teams were able to successfully 'clear' the course. In response, Dave, the mastermind of the competition course, revamped the difficulty of the game by proposing challenges that are quite impossible to clear under the given time constraint.
Given the demanding nature of the course, there was a need to implement something new -- something that could give us a chance against the monstrous course. In response, we developed OMR (optimized mission runner). OMR would allow Gemini to make intelligent decisions autonomously regarding which task to forego and initiate during any point of the mission. With inputs such as current vehicle location, respective element location, potential points and success rates for each element, Gemini would actively keep us on tip of our toes by making independent decisions on the fly.
More so than ever before, TRANSDEC was filled with energy, excitement, and anxiety. Local visitors were tent-hopping to understand what the competition was about, film crew from various media organizations were capturing the moment, and the mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, made a speech and showed his support.
KBPS media filming our CUAUV booth
Spectators filled the entire perimeter of TRANSDEC. As usual, team's vehicles and their mission runs were being displayed on the Jumboscreen. We were able to secure our desired time-slot of 3:30PM by placing 1st in static judging. Static judging score was mainly based on our presentation, team website, and competition video.
During our semi-final run, we witnessed our newly implemented mission optimizer in full play. After successfully driving pass the gate, hitting the red buoy, and circumnavigating the wire, Gemini pleasantly surprised everyone by choosing to go for recovery task 2.5 minutes into our run. The usual element Gemini tackles next is the bin. However, given the current vehicle location, distance from all elements, and potential score estimate of each task, Gemini made an intelligent autonomously to go for recovery (which can potentially earn us over 27,000 points). On the way, however, Gemini encountered a problem in the pipe-tracking code, forcing us to 'kill' the mission and restart. When the vehicle returned to dock, the remaining time was little over 7 minutes. As soon as Gemini left the dock and passed the validation gate, it shot straight to the recovery task -- nothing was on Gemini's mind other than getting some cheese and rocks. Although Gemini attempted to grab all 6 elements numerous times, it was able to only successfully grab 2 mars rocks an
Today was our final day of practice runs, as well as static judging. As usual, the first squad arrived at TRANSDEC at 5:30AM to secure our early slot for 7:30AM. Not too later, the 2nd squad joined with bagels and remaining tools.
Members of CUAUV rocking the traditional red polos
We started off the day continuing to improve our recovery task. Of the two attempts at hydrophones task, we secured all 6 K'nex lego pieces at first, and then 3 pieces (2 mars rocks and 1 cheese) in the latter attempt. The K'nex pieces located near the edge proved more difficult because the walls of the element obstructed many of our grabs. After sufficient testing time with recovery, we proceeded to test our forward manipulator (power routing task). Watching Gemini 'reroute power' on the side of TRANSDEC was not the most exciting part of San Diego because the element was located center of TRANSDEC, providing zero visibility. Fortunately, excitement level of the day sky rocketed when the JumboTron screen was installed towards late afternoon and live footage of our sub was now displayed on a giant screen.
Gemini casually rerouting power on the Jumbo screen.
To further fuel the excitement level, the first wave of CUAUV alumni and visitors started appearing throughout the day. There were pleasant catching up with former teammates, introducing freshmen, and showcasing our new vehicle.
Today also consisted of Static Judging. With chic matching CUAUV polos and elegant Cornell University table cloth on display case, we rolled our vehicle into the judging room. Markus and Chris demonstrated eloquent prowess in presentation as they spewed knowledge. The judges were particularly impressed with our mission optimizer algorithm that exemplify intelligent autonomy in robotics.
We wrapped up our last practice day with securing our semi-final run at 3:30PM for tomorrow (Friday). Best of luck to all teams tomorrow!
Throughout the summer testing period, the frequent flooding of the valve enclosure has caused much trouble for the team. Failing valves, coupled grabbers, and sinking Gemini are just a few to list about the valve enclosure mishap. Yesterday at TRANSDEC was no exception.
College students use funnels for various purposes. We use it to prevent leaks in our robot's valve enclosure
After attempting different approaches to tackling the problem, we are excited with the success we've had with our new solution. We have actively filled the valve enclosure with Cutting Board (mineral) oil. Our logic was simple -- oil is minimally conductive, oil doesn't mix with water, and connectors inside the valve are located on the floor of the enclosure. For the first time, we were excited to have our valve enclosure flooded (with oil) and tackle the recovery task.
We were jubilant to see a successful hydrophone recovery task without a sign of leak; all 3 grabbers secured 3 Mars rocks. At one point, Gemini got too hungry for some cheese and dragged the entire recovery element!
Gemini honing in on an acoustic pinger to complete the recovery task
Gemini got 6 practice times and 1 full autonomous run in TRANSDEC today. Software has made appropriate modifications to improve robustness of the power routing task and further optimize mission planner. We are excited for another full day of practice time, and best of luck to all other team as well!
Gemini being released into the blue waters of TRANSDEC to hunt for some cheese and mars rocks
Tuesday July 29th, 2014. Squad of 13 ambitious and eager souls set foot in TRANSDEC, the acoustic testing facility for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. With the new policy enforcing randomized early practice slots among the first few teams that arrived before 5:30AM, there was no more of a mad-rush to arrive at the gates of TRANSDEC. The usual sunrise and the dawn dew of TRANSDEC welcomed us to the 2014 competition.
Mandatory photo shoot of TRANSDEC
The crew unloaded our tools, unpacked Gemini, and set our banners high in our tent. Just like all other teams, we were excited for the opportunity but also anxious about the challenges to face in the following week.
Brendon, Melissa, and Alex manning our new home for the next week
Our first few initial practice runs were dedicated to tune our vision and control. TRANSDEC water proved to be a wild and different beast than the more familiar Teagle indoor pool water. After qualifying for the semi-final by passing through the gate (yes!), we tested out pipes, buoy, wire, bins, pegs, and even recovery element.
Jeff approved run of hydrophones task. Great success!
First time Gemini diving into the deep waters of TRANSDEC
A few rerouted flights and airport switches notwithstanding, the second group of CUAUV members arrived late last night, partook in burritos, and quickly made their way to beds. We all got up this morning at a fairly reasonable hour (likely for the last time this week), acquired breakfast, and put fully-assembled Gemini in the small outdoor hotel pool for a brief spot of testing.
On our way to our hotel in San Diego. New scenery from the Ithaca farms and mountains.
Trim was adjusted and controls were tuned (slightly); luckily, mostly due to shipping the sub whole this year, only minimal adjustments were necessary. We also tested the critical "GoStraight" mission, necessary for semifinal qualification, and determined that the sub could, in fact, go straight.
Mark making final trim to Gemini at the hotel pool
We continued testing and debugging for the rest of the afternoon and early evening, making a few minor changes to our actuator system and re-epoxying the kill switch. The orientation in the afternoon spanned topics ranging from the Navy's policy on charged ion weaponry (strictly prohibited) to the probability of potential mohawks at the after-party (high). Various information relating to safety, security, and logistics was also covered, including some new TRANSDEC layout changes due to the record number of participating teams this year (TRANSDEC now split into 4 courses).
Enjoying our last day at the hotel before competition starts
After a brief team meeting in the evening to assign various competition roles (TRANSDEC element mapping, pneumatic and battery management), we proceeded to finish our locally-sourced Indian dinner (a few slight gripes regarding spiceness, but otherwise well-deserving of its Yelp rating: solid), pack one of our vehicles for the early shift tomorrow, move in all our gear from the poolside, and finally clear off enough of the screws, nuts, electronics, and other assorted small parts off our hotel beds in order to nestle our way into them in preparation for the early morning. See you at TRANSDEC!
After much filming and editing, our competition video is finally here!
We hope you enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed making it. Once again, we would like to thank all our alumni and sponsors for making our team possible. We're looking forward to seeing everyone in San Diego in 4 weeks!
CUAUV has been testing in the campus pool, Teagle Hall, six nights per week in preparation for RoboSub. We are also working hard on putting together our 2014 Competition Video. The team has experimented with different lighting and visual effects, which has led to a fun, creative, and challenging experience. Keep an eye out for the video this weekend!
Several members of CUAUV were invited by the AUVSI Foundation to attend AUVSI's Unmanned Systems 2014 conference, and showcase our new autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) - Gemini - in the AUVSI Foundation/Student Pavilion.
Attending the Unmanned Systems Conference was a valuable experience, allowing us to meet up with many of our current sponsors, pursue future sponsors, and showcase Cornells newest AUV to many industry experts. The conference brings together around 8,000 leading experts in autonomous maritime, underwater, air, and ground vehicles. Sharing ideas with these industry professionals will also give us an opportunity to gain some of their expertise, and apply that to our own engineering practices. We will also had the opportunity to attend many different talks and special interest presentations.
In addition, we were interviewed by and featured on EngineeringTV! You can see the video at http://www.engineeringtv.com/video/Cornell-Student-s-Robotic-Submar.
CUAUV and CUAir co-hosted the Boy Scouts Robotics Workshop for scouts around the Ithaca area to earn their Robotics Merit Badge. 17 scouts came to Cornell's campus to learn about robotics and engineering, and then build their own SeaPerch submarines! Both the scouts and CUAUV/CUAir team members had a lot of fun building the submarines and then testing them in a pool outside.