We often speak of ENVI and their indoor drone testing facility located on the Coleman Campus as a major hub of development for autonomous flying. However there is more “under the hood” at ENVI than that. This year marks the second in a row that the team of volunteers, students, and mentors at ENVI has competed in the 2017 International RoboSub Competition which showcases the best in RoboSub development from across the globe. From July 24th-30th colleges and universities from as far away as China, India, and Russia also competed for the honor of showcasing the best in RoboSub technology.
Every year this competition is hosted at the SSC Pacific TRANSDEC Pool in San Diego, and the pool is supervised by the U.S. Navy Seals who dive to retrieve the subs and move them to their starting positions. The course must be traversed by the RoboSub through various obstacles and challenges within 30 minutes, and contestants have the ability to start over as many times as needed. The big catch is that the time does not start over when a team decides to go back to the starting line. The sub must be retrieved by a Navy Seal diver and brought back to the start in order to try the course again. Luckily teams get to rotate time in the pool before the competition begins in order to make changes and begin to strategize their way through the course. Despite a slightly rough start, over the course of the week long competition against 43 other teams, the team at ENVI was able to qualify in the final round on Saturday and put their name on the leaderboard. The top three schools this year were Cornell University (USA/First Place), Far Eastern Federal University/Institute for Marine Technology (Russia/Second Place), and the National University of Singapore (Singapore/Third Place). Each of the top teams received a cash prize and international recognition in the world of autonomous underwater vehicles. However prizes were not just awarded to the best contestants. Other teams had the chance to win monetary prizes for “Best Static Entry”, “Best PR”, “Best New Entry”, “Best Presentation”, and “Sportsmanship”.
For two years in a row the ENVI team was able to qualify with their robosub and next year should be just as exciting. In the world of robosub development there are many possibilities for improvement and innovation, and we at Coleman are looking forward to seeing what ENVI has in store for their next competition. For more information on the Robonation competition visit their website at http://www.robonation.org/competition/robosub.