CRLS Underwater Robotics Team Wins New England, Heads To International Competition In Houston, Texas

On April 23rd, the CRLS Underwater Robotics team beat out 14 teams from throughout New England to win the New England regional competition at Mass Maritime Academy. This qualified the team to move onto the International Underwater Robotics competition in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston, Texas in June.

Capture.pngDesigned after the Gulf oil spill from last summer, teams were challenged with the task of designing, building, and flying underwater robots (ROVs) to complete a series of missions that real world scientists and engineers struggled with to get the gushing oil spill under control.

The competition setting was NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, the largest indoor pool in the world filled with mock-ups of the International Space Station and the payload bay of the Space Shuttle. The team’s ROV had to navigate a mission of removing the broken riser pipe, turning the valve to stop the flow of oil, and then capping the oil pipe. The team then had to collect water samples at a specified depth and biological samples of ‘critters’ from the sea floor, all within a 15-minute time frame.

The CRLS team was up against 24 teams from 9 countries including high schools colleges and universities.

The mission is intended to pose many real world engineering challenges and the CRLS team had designed and implemented multiple effective and efficient components to meet these challenges including dual video cameras, high and low torque motors, efficient thrusters, a multifunction gripper arm, a bidirectional rotational arm, and a unique water sampling device all controlled through a tether by a pilot on the surface watching color video screens.

The gods of marine engineering were not with us on the day of the competition though. After many advance tests of the systems, two electrical shorts, one in the gripper arm and then one in the vertical thrusters prevented the team from being successful in the mission and from showing off what the ROV could really accomplish.

The team leaves Houston disappointed with the electrical issues but confident in the knowledge that the ‘bot that they built and the systems that they designed were very competitive with the teams from around the world.'

Next years competition scenario won’t be released until later in the fall of this year but the CRLS team is already thinking about upgrades and improvements to again be competitive in the International realm of Underwater Robotics.

Special thanks go out to our supporters and financial sponsors who make opportunities such as this a reality for our students at CRLS:

Dr. Chris Saheed and the CRLS/CPS/RSTA administration, Draper Labs, Raytheon IDS, Piledrivers Union 56, J.F Contracting Co., Mr. Mark Levin and the Possible Project, and Ms Adelaide Teel.

Join us! We’re always looking for new team members, sponsors, and supporters!

CRLS Underwater Robotics current team members:

team-pic.jpgFaculty Mentor: Mr. Paul McGuinness
Captain and pilot: Alex Chiclana ‘11
Amy Campbell ’12
Eric Macomber ‘11 
Simran Dhillon ’12
Imtiyaz Hossain ’13
Jonah Saltzman ’13
Jonathon Park ’13

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