The Far Eastern Federal University team in underwater robotics took the second place at the Singapore AUV Challenge, the Asia international open competition. At the prestigious international competition held on March 4-6, FEFU students conceded only to the representatives of Northwest Polytechnical University (China) and outstripped two Singapore teams, Bumblebee AUV and Singapore Polytechnic, which shared the third place.
The FEFU robotics researchers are the only representatives of Russia in the Asia competition since 2013. This time they competed with 18 leading technical universities from China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Egypt. The team of Far Eastern Federal University consisted of ten students, undergraduates and postgraduate students of the School of Engineering and School of Natural Sciences under the supervision of the Director of the Underwater Robotics Research and Education Center, Professor Alexander Shcherbatyuk.
The FEFU robotics researchers have been preparing for Singapore AUV Challenge for several months. First of all, the students have developed the new software for their Autonomous Underwater Vehicle on the basis of ROS. Most of the time the young engineers and programmers worked in the laboratory, and the last three weeks they devoted to practical training in the campus swimming pool, where they set up the AUV for the objectives of the competition.
As the postgraduate student of the School of Engineering Anton Tolstonogov said, this year mission consisted of three tasks. Having submerged, the vehicle had to swim through the gate 1.5 meters high. Being guided by the camera or sound, the AUV chose the target drum from the different colored four ones and then dropped the ball of matching color into it. The final task was to search for the sound source device (acoustic pinger) with the use of the sonar. Having found it, the AUV had to knock down the ball fixed on a rack and to resurface in the working zone of the pool. The autonomous vehicle performed all tasks independently, without communication with the team members.
Important for the final result points were brought to the FEFU robotics researchers by an additional indicator, the vehicle weight. As a result, the bonuses for its light weight (29 kg) and successful performance in the finals allowed Far Eastern Federal University to be ahead of the National University of Singapore, the winner of the last year's competition. Representatives of China, whose AUV was the only one to cope with all tasks, became absolute leaders.
Underwater Robotics is one of the priority areas for Far Eastern Federal University, which is implemented within the Development Program and the Competitiveness Enhancement Program under the 5top100 Project. FEFU has achieved international standing in this area and its world leadership is annually confirmed by the successful performance of the university teams in the prestigious competitions. In 2013 students from Vladivostok won the first place at the Singapore AUV Challenge and in 2015 they brought silver to Russia, having conceded only to the hosts of the competition.