Conquering The Fathoms : Team Tiburon Review
Analogies may often be drawn between a traveller and an engineer, both of whom travel to uncharted territories in the quest for something new. Just as a traveller returns to his abode at the end of the day to rest, an engineer, however, returns home to his own territory to apply his skills and knowledge to benefit humankind. Such is the temperament of the highly systematic and ambitious of a handful of students of NITR, who have chosen to dive into the tumultuous waters- quite literally. Team Tiburon, formulated in 2014 and consisting of students from various branches of the institute, works toward developing an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle(AUV). An AUV is often described as a robot which travels underwater without requiring any input from an operator. They are used for commercial purposes by the oil and gas industries, which use AUVs to make detailed maps of the seafloor before constructing subsea infrastructure. It also finds a plethora of research applications.
OBJECTIVES OF TEAM TIBURON
The vision of Team Tiburon is three-fold and is furnished below:
- To make an industry standard commercial product for marine exploration.
- To contribute to the marine research community through the development of novel software and hardware constructs.
- To serve the needs of the Indian Navy.
The current version of the vehicle is capable of moving underwater autonomously, in a pre-programmed path, or intelligently following markers. The team wishes to augment the vehicle with acoustic localization and communication, as well as a robust vision system for low light underwater scenarios. The major motivation behind equipping the AUV to do so is that the depths of oceans, lakes, and rivers are among the least explored regions on the planet.
In a conversation with the Captain of Team Tiburon, Prasanmit Nath, a final-year student from the Department of Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering, regarding the completion of manufacturing of the vehicle, he was quoted as saying,
The Mechanical subsystem of the latest version of the AUV is ready. There have been significant improvements in the stability, weight and run time of the vehicle. We have also achieved imparting complete 6 degrees of freedom to the vehicle. The testing of the software to operate the vehicle is under process.
He also stated that the construction of the Electronics and Electrical subsystem has been completed and the vehicle is capable of navigation, throwing or gripping objects, launching torpedoes and moving autonomously by now. The problem statement of the Singapore AUV Challenge only deemed marker dropping as a necessary capability of the AUV, but Team Tiburon decided to include torpedo launching as one of its capabilities too. The team members have also used some neural network algorithms to enable inertial navigation.
Mentioning about the glitches faced in the process till now, the Captain was quoted as saying,
There have been no major administrative glitches faced so far. The logistical support provided by NITR has shown a marked improvement after we won the national challenge. The lack was in technical support, as we have developed the entire vehicle indigenously. The lack of people having knowledge of AUVs renders us without some guidance at times.
Team Tiburon raised the bars by attaining national acclaim at the Student Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (SAVe), 2017. Team Tiburon secured the third position at the Annual National Competition, organized under the aegis of National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai. They competed against the prominent institutes of the country, including the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT). The salient features of the version of the vehicle presented there were minimum weight and lowest manufacturing cost amongst all the vehicles displayed.
The next step of Team Tiburon is to contest on the international dais at the Singapore AUV Challenge. The team has been constantly working to design, develop and ameliorate their AUV to conform to the problem statement of the competition.
The team enlists the various necessary incorporations for the Singapore AUV Challenge and the same have been furnished below.
- Underwater exploration for the study of aquatic life, the discovery of minerals, lost objects, etc.
- Underwater pipeline/structural inspection and repair.
- Military applications like surveillance, planned strikes, reconnaissance, etc. maintaining a small form factor to facilitate undetected movement.
- Environmental information collection and monitoring at low cost - Temperature, Pollution and Mineral Concentration.
The team works under the guidance of Prof.Haraprasad Roy of Department of Mechanical Engineering, who has been their faculty advisor. The budget allocated to the team comes under the wings of budget allocation for Institute projects and all the funds allocated are spent on the advice of Prof. H.P Roy. The following is an approximate division of budget on different parts of the AUV.
The total cost mentioned above is used by the entire project, under which the AUV is modified according to the needs of the challenges. The team often recycles the parts to upgrade the AUV to accommodate the intended features for the applications they wish the AUV to have under the aegis of the long-term project.The funds were also raised by seeking an estimated sponsorship amount from NITRAA, NALCO, Blue Robotics and OPENROV in the year 2016.In addition to this, Intel has also extended support in form of an essential equipment called the Next Unit of Computing.The team hopes to get more sponsors for further augmentation of the vehicle. This would help them to purchase acoustic hydrophones and pinger, which would assist the AUV in underwater localization and communication.
Team Monday Morning wishes that Team Tiburon scales all heights and reaches new depths of knowledge in their endeavours.