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UM Wins Underwater Vehicle Contest

The Robotics@Maryland team members who competed in San Diego.

The Robotics@Maryland team members who competed in San Diego.

Robotics@Maryland won the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and Office of Naval Research 11th Annual International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Competition in San Diego, Calif., this past weekend.

The team competed against 25 other teams from across the United States, India, Canada and Japan. The other schools in the top eight included University of Texas at Dallas, École de technologie supérieure, University of Florida, U.S. Naval Academy, University of Victoria, Cornell University and Florida Atlantic University.

Each team was challenged to design and build an AUV capable of navigating realistic underwater missions. The Maryland team won the competition in only its second year of participation.

UM's team overcame many challenges during the competition.

"Despite losing our main vehicle computer, busting a thruster propeller, temporarily losing our firewire cameras, and watching three team member's laptops die (including mine), the group worked together and handled each problem in turn," said Joseph Gland, graduate student advisor for the Robotics@Maryland team.

The team reached the finals in first place.

The final competition entailed dead reckoning approximately 50 feet through the starting gate, pipeline following, buoy docking, tracking and hovering over an acoustic pinger, grabbing an object and surfacing with the object to a floating ring, Gland said.

The Robotics@Maryland team is made up of students across the campus, including several different engineering majors. The team was assisted by Prof. Dave Akin in the aerospace engineering Space Systems Lab and Prof. Nuno Martins, who serves as faculty advisor. The team is sponsored by the UM Office of the Vice President for Research, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Aerospace Engineering, the Institute for Systems Research, and the Clark School of Engineering, and also receives corporate support from Clark School Corporate Partner BAE Systems, E.K. Fox and Apple. Memsense was also a sponsor, donating an Inertial Measurement Unit and other electronic hardware.

Read the related press release.

Watch CBS News video from local affiliate, WUSA-TV (Channel 9 in Washington, D.C.), or read the related news story online.

August 4, 2008

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