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U of A students head to California to compete in International RoboSub Competition

Student group Autonomous Robotic Vehicle Project hopes to place in International RoboSub competition

Completing barrel rolls and firing torpedos at Dracula are only a few of the obstacles U of A students will be tackling at the 2019 International Robosub Competition with Auri, their Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). 

The Autonomous Robotic Vehicle Project (ARVP) is a student group consisting of over 50 engineering and computer science students. Every year, the student group creates an AUV to compete internationally, and on July 29th, a team of 16 students will represent the student group in San Diego California at the International RoboSub Competition.  

ARVP is broken down into four sections, with students dedicated to administration, computer coding, mechanical and electrical engineering. Andreea Muresan, the administration lead of ARVP, said the software faction of the group is the largest, as creating the code for their robot Auri is the most time-consuming. 

Helen Zhang Members of ARVP testing their AUV Auri on Saturday

“The physical robot took about a year. It takes a couple of months to build an actual robot, but the code is what takes longer,” Muresan said. “Every year we re-use a lot of code, but we do need to integrate new things such as [coding for] the different obstacles.”

This will be Auri’s third year competing. However, next year the team is looking to retire this robot and begin building a newer, more improved model.

“Because of the difficulty level, we can’t build a new robot and code every year,” Muresan said. “Next year we’ll be building a new robot and every year we try to improve on its design. This year the robot isn’t very hydrodynamic, so we’re going to try and make it more rounded [next year].”

Auri may be retiring next year, but the team has made a major improvement to its coding which they hope will give them a competitive edge this year. 

“This year we have a Doppler Velocity Log (DVL), which is game-changer,” Muresan explained. “Instead of moving the robot based on how much time it takes to get there, we can say we want to move [the robot] this many meters, which is big because we can’t always tell how long it’s going to take the robot to get somewhere.”

Helen Zhang An ARVP member with the group’s volunteer diver. Since the pool is 5m deep, the volunteer helps with all things underwater.

The competition itself entails various activities, all created around this year’s theme: vampires. Competing teams are expected to make their robots pass through gates (enter the realm of the undead), touch buoys (slay vampires), drop markers (drop garlic), fire torpedos at Dracula (drive a stake through his heart), and retrieve objects to the surface of the pool (expose vampires to sunlight).

Auri practising tasks for the competition
Video supplied by Andreea Muresan.
Khadra Ahmed ARVP’s AUV Auri underwater at Kinsmen’s diving pool.
Photo supplied by Andreea Muresan.
Helen Zhang

ARVP has been competing at RoboSUB since 2008 and has yet to place, though they did win best introduction video for their robot last year. However, Muresan is confident the team will be successful this year, citing the team’s commitment, passion, and overall progress.

“We have such a good team, we can rely on people to things get done,” Muresan said. “People are passionate about this — this is a team you have to commit to… Our team lead will stay up all night to get something done on the robot.” 

“We’ve been making a lot of progress over the past few months and even in the past few weeks. We’re going for the win this year.”

Helen Zhang

Khadra Ahmed

Khadra is the Gateway's 2019-20 Staff Reporter, dedicated to providing intersectional news coverage on campus. She's a biology major and a women's and gender studies minor so if you want to talk about embryology, the development of medical perception or the intersections between both, she's your gal.

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