A recap of last year’s competition

8 02 2007

Some of you reading this may not be aware of SubjuGator’s primary purpose. For the past 9 years, each generation of SubjuGator has competed with other institutions around the world in ONR & AUVSI’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle competition. The directors of the competition present teams with a set of tasks that they must complete autonomously within some time limit. Other restrictions, such as a weight limit, mandatory shrouded thrusters, and an accessible kill switch, apply also.

On top of these basic rules, each year AUVSI instroduces a set of mission objectives that yield points upon completion. Months before the competition, AUVSI publishes the detailed mission objectives to their website. Without all the nitty gritty, the course resembles the picture below.


The TRANSDEC (pictured above) is a large, man-made, concrete “lake” with a small metal building suspended over the center. The large blue circle in the middle is an acoustic sound trap– this part reaches depths of approximately 40 feet. The walls fall toward the bottom in an elliptical manner, as you might expect. ONR provides a team of Navy divers to set up the course, control the lifts that insert and extract the subs into/out of the water, and swim with the subs to observe their progress along the course.

Teams have 15 minutes to make it through all the cartoonish obstacles in the picture. The first of the multicolored elements littering the diagram above, at the very bottom right (the start of the course) on the competition side, is a floating dock (yellow square). From here, the diver activates the sub (usually the inverse function of the killswitch). The mandatory first task in this mission was to pass through a gate, represented by the white bar. Easy as it sounds, it’s a highly efficient way of filtering out the teams that would not do so well at the more complicated tasks. Once through, the sub had to (optionally) interprest a random order light array (the checkered rainbow passing underneath the white bar), nudge a blinking light deemd the “docking station” (red circle), follow a broken orange pipeline past a series of bins (white/black rectangles) distinguishable by the angle of lines (or the lack of lines) printed on their faces, and locate and surface above an acoustic pinger. The competition logisticians used different frequency blinks on the random order light array to tell the sub in which bin it should drop a marker. If the sub did not detect the random order light array, it could drop the marker in any bin for a significant point reduction.

SubjuGator placed 1st above Duke followed by Ecole de Technologie Superieure. Still, no team for the past two years has come close to completing the pipe/bin task.




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