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    SAUC-E 2012 – a roundup

    The CAUV 2012 team and Barracuda at SAUC-E 2012


    This has been a huge year for CAUV. With stronger industry support than ever before, we set about the design and build of Barracuda, a new vehicle to meet CAUV’s long term goals. The ambitious, uncompromising designs made it a challenge to finish in time. Four days after our arrival at the competition in Italy, the vehicle’s core functionality was complete and Barracuda was ready to swim.

    Being the last to qualify, we were given an early morning slot for our final competition run. This put the software team in a tight spot: they had had only a third of the overall competition time for testing, tuning and general readying the high level system. Even so, Barracuda successfully followed an underwater pipeline using its image processing. To transfer our entire autonomous software framework to a new vehicle in just 3 days, have it drive the AUV and complete missions is a great reflection of the team’s perseverance and tirelessness. An unfortunate wi-fi issue held us up as we tried to launch for our judged run, putting us out of the running for the main prizes. Nonetheless, the breadth of engineering skills brought to bear in Barracuda was recognised by the SAUC-E judges and CAUV won the 2012 prize for Engineering.

    The team operates on a two year cycle, with each vehicle being refined and tested in the year following that in which it is built. CAUV is in a strong position for next year with Barracuda promising to be a fantastic platform for developing autonomous software. It is remarkably fast and also looks awesome! It was very encouraging that a lot of new electronics, waterproof structure & sealing simply worked first time. But most importantly, Barracuda meets its design goals of being easy to operate, painless to carry, sporting eight different types of underwater sensor, having powerful ARM and x86 computers, and – with its innovative external quick-swap batteries – having the ability to run indefinitely without power-down.

    None of this would have been possible without the immense generosity of our sponsors. ARM and Autonomy’s support of students in summer 2011 allowed design of much of the underlying hardware and system architecture. Tritech’s provision of a multibeam sonar has hugely boosted Barracuda’s sensing capabilities. Cambridge Precision, Fischer Connectors and Cambridge Circuit have delivered (respectively) to a superb standard the machined parts, connectors and PCBs that physically constitute Barracuda. Thanks are also due to workshop technicians in CUED for all their help. Finally thanks to Schlumberger, our longest standing sponsor, whose support and interest is of great value to the project.

    The ready state of the hardware will allow a year more focused on software development and testing than has ever before been possible. We finally can do justice to the team’s sustained effort and realistically aim for first place in SAUC-E 2013.

    Photos of this year's event will soon be appearing in the gallery!

    Posted on Wednesday 25th of July 2012 by ralph

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