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CHIPS Articles: Cornell takes the prize at 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition

Cornell takes the prize at 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition
By Patric Petrie, SSC Pacific lead staff writer - August 1, 2017
The Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center pool was awash with robotics enthusiasts, distinguished visitors and competitors from 44 college and high school teams and eight countries eager to advance their knowledge and experience with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) during this year’s International RoboSub Competition, July 26-30.

The competition, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Foundation/RoboNation, featured student-designed and-built vehicles navigating their way through SSC Pacific’s acoustically perfect research pool while completing a difficult series of visual- and acoustic-based tasks.

Framed by the sparkling blue waters of the TRANSDEC pool, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and California Assemblyman Todd Gloria welcomed students, parents and members of the public to the event, hosted by SSC Pacific for the past 16 years, and praised both the landmark Navy facility and SSC Pacific’s role in fostering, promoting and encouraging innovation in San Diego, one of the nation’s fastest growing economic regions in the fields of cyber, robotics, and autonomy.

Faulconer praised the student’s spirit of ingenuity, smarts and dedication while Gloria singled San Diego out as a city of innovation, perfectly positioned to host the ground breaking technology event.

The more than 300 students competed to design and build a vehicle from scratch, write a technical paper, make a presentation before a panel of judges, create a short video, and develop a website that documented their progress.

This year’s winners:

  • 1st Place – Cornell University (USA) ($4,500)
  • 2nd Place – Far Eastern Federal University (RUSSIA) ($4,000)
  • 3rd Place – National University of Singapore (SINGAPORE) ($3,000)
  • 4th Place – Harbin Engineering University (CHINA) ($2,000)
  • 5th Place – Georgia Institute of Technology (USA) ($1,000)

Prizes were also awarded for:

  • Best Static Entry - Cornell University ($1,500)
  • Best PR – San Diego State University ($1,000)
  • Best New Entry – University of Puerto Rico at Mäyaguez ($1,000)
  • Best Presentation – McGill University ($1,000)
  • Sportsmanship Award – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ($1,000)

The goal of the annual RoboSub competition is to advance the development of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) by challenging a new generation of engineers to perform realistic missions in an underwater environment. The event also serves to foster ties between young engineers and the organizations developing AUV technologies. The event is an important key to keeping young engineers excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math and has been tremendously successful in recruiting students into the high-tech field of maritime robotics.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides primary funding for the annual RoboSub Competition. The signature industry sponsor of RoboSub is Northrop Grumman. Additional sponsors include MathWorks, General Atomics, SolidWorks, VideoRay, ElectroCraft, Teledyne Marine, BlueRobotics, Fischer Connectors, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, SeaDrone, SpaceX, Hyperloop One, and PMS 408. Local partners include the AUVSI San Diego Lindbergh Chapter and the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR).

SSC Pacific's mission: To conduct research, development, engineering, and support of integrated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber, and space systems across all warfighting domains, and to rapidly prototype, conduct test and evaluation, and provide acquisition, installation, and in-service engineering support.

A UAV is lowered into the water at the the 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition held at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.
A UAV is lowered into the water at the the 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition held at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.

A UAV is examined at the 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition held at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.
A UAV is examined at the 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition held at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.

A UAV is lowered into the water at the 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition held at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.
A UAV is lowered into the water at the 20th International RoboSub unmanned, underwater robotics competition held at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.

California Assembly Member Todd Gloria; San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, SSC Pacific Commanding Officer Capt. Mel Yokoyama; Executive Director Carmela Keeney; and SPAWAR Executive Director Pat Sullivan pose with the Mayor's Cup during welcoming ceremonies for the 20th International RoboSub Competition, July 28, 2017. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.
California Assembly Member Todd Gloria; San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, SSC Pacific Commanding Officer Capt. Mel Yokoyama; Executive Director Carmela Keeney; and SPAWAR Executive Director Pat Sullivan pose with the Mayor's Cup during welcoming ceremonies for the 20th International RoboSub Competition, July 28, 2017. U.S. Navy photo by Alan Antczak.
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