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    Barracuda at SAUC-E 2012 in Italy

    Barracuda's densely packed electronics rack and waterproof vessel on the bench, prior to assemblyThe weeks of assembly, months of manufacture and intensive year of design are finally bearing fruit! After four days soldering, scripting and sculpting buoyancy foam under the Italian sun, we finally have a vehicle that looks ready to swim!

    SAUC-E (Student Autonomous Underwater Challenge – Europe) is the AUV competition that CAUV enters annually. And despite turning various parts of the Cambridge Engineering Department into our full time workplace since mid-June, it was still with a kit-AUV that the team drove and flew to the competition arena, the Centre for Maritime Research & Experimentation (CMRE) in La Spezia.

    Pandy, Nick and Steve fit components into Barracuda's structure at SAUC-E 2012The tight timing has been down to our ambitious plan for this year. Immediately after SAUC-E 2011 we set about design of our new and much improved vehicle, Barracuda. The structure, mechanics and electronics behind this have been designed entirely from scratch in the time since - alongside undergraduate study and in holidays. But only in the last few days in CMRE (and into the no-so-early hours at the naval barracks where we stay!) has it all finally come together.

    James testing the Fischer connectors integrated into Barracuda's electronics rackAt this moment the completed vehicle has been passed to our software sub-team for dry testing of the system. Our autonomous software has been developed and well tested on our previous vehicle, Red Herring, whilst Barracuda’s just-complete hull was tested yesterday and found not to leak, as is required! Our AUV now floats, and its electronic architecture is built to spec. Such systems integration steps always raise further areas to work on, but we are aiming to have the vehicle alive in the water by close of play today.

    Battery modules are reaching full charge for the first time and software is compiling. We have tomorrow and the day after to qualify. This means proving our vehicle can carry out the basic task of passing through a ‘validation’ gate below the surface. Our competition run through the full underwater obstacle course that is SAUC-E takes place on Friday. Between now and then we must choose which tasks we will aim to undertake and tune our software to the conditions here at the basin.

    Steve carries Barracuda, tightly integrated to be one-man-portable, to the sea-water tank for leak/buoyancy testing (so no electronics in it yet!)Spirits (and expectations) are high and for good reason: we are set to launch with our most capable and meticulously designed vehicle ever!

    Watch this space for updates on our progress.

    Posted on Tuesday 10th of July 2012 by ralph

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    • Good Luck!
      Posted by guest on Wednesday 11th of July 2012
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