Science News

Acoustic Pingers Help Contestants in Robosub Competition

The Robosub competition was started 18 years ago to advance the development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV). Co-sponsors are the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR). The goal is to challenge a new generation of engineers to accomplish realistic missions in an underwater environment and get young people excited about careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Teams from high schools, colleges, and universities from around the world compete in this annual event. Participants learn how to work together to create an autonomous system that will accomplish a variety of challenging tasks. The underwater vehicles they construct must navigate a complex course which involves visual and acoustic sensing elements, small and large object manipulation, dropping markers into specific bins, and launching torpedoes at particular targets; all without human control or intervention. Points are awarded for the number and difficulty of the tasks successfully completed.

One returning competitor is the North Carolina State University Underwater Robotics Club. Their vehicle, Seawolf, was designed to maneuver through an underwater obstacle course, retrieving and dropping payloads, and navigating to locations marked by an acoustic pinger. To test their vehicle’s ability to maneuver to an acoustic beacon, the team chose a JW Fishers SFP-1 single frequency pinger for its low cost, and because its specifications met Robosub requirements. The SFP-1 transmits a preset frequency between 22 and 37.5 kHz which can be detected at a distance of several thousand feet.

A newcomer to Robosub is the SASAUV team from Shanghai American School, an international high school based in China. Their group is divided into three parts, each with a different expertise; navigation and software, hardware, and multimedia. At a time when many modern AUVs are exploring radical exterior designs, their design philosophy is that the underwater vehicle should have the shape of a conventional submarine. To accelerate the development of the AUV’s acoustic sensing capability, the team used parts of JW Fishers PR-1 pinger receiver, a device that finds acoustic pingers and guides the operator to the pinger’s location.

Numerous other competing teams from around the globe used Fishers acoustic devices and/or pingers in their projects.

For more info on the Robosub competition, click here.
For more information on JW Fishers complete line of underwater search equipment, click here.
 

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