UWE robotics students bring on sub to secure second place in Euro contest

July 16, 2013

A robot submarine built by a team of students from UWE Bristol has come second in a prestigious European challenge competition.

The robot, named Phoenix, outmanoeuvred six teams in the week-long SAUC-E 2013 challenge at La Spezia, Italy, to win the runner-up prize worth €2,000. It was the fourth time UWE – a leading centre for robotics – has been invited to take part and is its biggest success to date, having previously won the prize for innovation.  

The BSc robotics students – Andrew Bremer, Matt Huxford, Chris Cronin, Chris Bird, Kaya Sinclair, Queron Williams and captain Dan Davies – were supported by staff from UWE’s department of Engineering Design and Maths.

Senior robotics lecturer Dr Matt Studley said: “Some of the team only slept for 10 hours in the last three days and really pulled out all the stops, fighting to the finish. Their fantastic team spirit was noted by judges and was a contributing factor to the award.”

The 2013 Student Autonomous Underwater Challenge (SAUC-E 2013) is an annual competition designed to challenge the next generation of engineers in the field of robotics. The teams have to design and construct autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) capable of performing real-world tasks, from passing through obstacles to surveying pipelines on the sea bed. The AUVs must perform these tasks with no control, guidance or communication from a human or from any off-board computer including GPS systems.

Director of UWE’s Science Communication Unit, Professor Alan Winfield, added: “Watching the competition I was hugely impressed by the UWESub team – both for the quality and technical sophistication of their autonomous robot submarine, and their energy, enthusiasm and commitment.

“The agility and manoeuvrability of their robot in the water is deeply impressive. They are a real credit to the department, the robotics programme, and UWE.”

First prize went to the University of Cambridge’s AUV Barracuda.

The competition was hosted by the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), formerly known as the NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC), at La Spezia.

To watch film of UWESub’s Phoenix being built click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2yOJF8Dp9M&feature=youtu.be


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