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For the first time, two teams jointly won the SAUC-E competition, the Student Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Challenge - Europe. The ENSTA Bretagne team, with the robot SAUC-ISSE, and the DFKI GmbH-University of Bremen team, with the robot Avalon, triumphed over four other teams at the 9th edition. The 2nd prize went jointly to the ENSTA Bretagne team, with the robot CISSAU, and to University of Applied Sciences Kiel, with the robot TomKyle, which was awarded as well for the “Best Journal Paper”.
The other prizes were awarded to the Robdos/UPM team, from Spain, that won the “System Integration Award”, and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna team, from Italy, that won the “Versatility Award”.
Three teams out of six were at their first participation in SAUC-E.
The competition was hosted from 20 to 26 September for the 5th time in a row by the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), and the Award Ceremony was held for the first time downtown in La Spezia during the European Researchers’ Night on 26 September 2014.
Each year SAUC-E challenges multidisciplinary University teams (consisting at least of 75% students members) to design and build Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) capable of performing realistic missions. The students’ AUVs must perform a series of tasks autonomously facing real life conditions such as limited visibility in the sea, with no control, guidance or communication from a person or from any off-board computer including GPS systems.
For the first task, an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) has to pass in the middle of two submerged buoys after covering a path in autonomous navigation. Other tasks consist in the AUV following a wall and inspecting an anomaly (a submerged buoy with a flashing light on the top), inspecting an underwater structure and in localizing a black box containing an acoustic pinger.
Collaboration between vehicles is strongly encouraged. The AUV can call a collaborator surface vehicle via an acoustic message to cooperatively solve some tasks.
"We are excited by the results" says Gabriele Ferri, the SAUC-E Technical Director, "We had different teams capable of getting points in complex tasks showing us an improvement in the overall team performance over the last years. Furthermore, two teams were successful in adopting cooperative strategies. We are happy of that since we believe that realizing smart cooperative robots will be the great challenge for the research in the next years".
From 29 September to 3 October 2014, for the first time CMRE will also host the euRathlon sea robotic challenge. The challenge is the second event of the euRathlon project, a three-year effort, funded by the European Commission, where robots and their teams of designers go head-to-head in a series of demanding outdoor scenarios that mimic the real challenges of a disaster situation. In 2015, the final Grand Challenge will feature all three elements (land, sea and air) to respond to a mock disaster scenario inspired by the Fukushima accident.
Competition scenarios for euRathlon 2014 have been designed to lead up to the Grand Challenge and will consist of five different marine scenarios: “Long range autonomous underwater navigation”, “Environmental survey of the accident area”, “Leak localisation and structure inspection”, “Interaction with underwater structures” and a “Combined scenario”.
Teams and their robot vehicles may compete in one or more scenarios. All scenario tasks can be undertaken by a single AUV. However, in some scenarios a team can compete using only an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), or a combination of USV and AUV.
Both SAUC-E and euRathlon competitions encourage participants to think about sea robotics and related applications while fostering innovation and technology. Thanks to the link between the two events and the possibility to loan vehicle related to euRathlon, two teams successfully participated in SAUC-E without previous experience in marine robotics.
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