Onward to Autonomy
The team began desiging its first AUV, Riptide, in 2015. The vehicle was representative of the team's strong background in mechanical engineering, as it featured a welded main housing, an acryllic end cap, and several CNC and waterjet parts. While the physical platform was solid, the transition to autonomy was a major challenge for the electrical and software teams. Despite this, the team found success in 2016 at their very first RoboSub appearance with a semi-finals qualification and an award for Best Journal Paper.
The following year, the team dealt with a large reorganization and sudden lack of resources which made it difficult to follow through with any significant changes to the vehicle. The team played the hand they were dealt and continued making improvements wherever possible. A major flaw in the electronics found late in the year meant the team would be going to RoboSub 2017 uncertain that anything would work. Through competition week, the team worked long nights to assemble a patchwork version of the electronics system. The jumbled mess of wires was just enough for the team, for the second year in a row, to make it through qualification.
In the 2017-2018 school year, the team's focus has been acting on the long list of lessons learned accumulated over two years competing at RoboSub. A number of changes have been made both to the vehicle and in how the team itself operates. With an exponential increase in testing time and opportunities for revision, the team has reached a new level of understanding as to what it takes to be competitive.
Leading up to RoboSub 2018 the summer was dedicated to software with some refinements to our mechanical systems. Then finally at competition the team unveiled Maelstrom, our first truly autonomous vehicle with a new sheet metal chassis and completely redesigned electrical system. The team had its best year yet taking 4th place in static judging, the best presentation award, and 9th place overall out of 47 teams (one spot away from finals!)
During the 2018-2019 school year the team spent time refining our organization and management system along with mechanical and electrical improvements. A huge milestone was also reached with the team finally purchasing a Doppler Velocity Logger (DVL), a huge monetary investment. With new sensors and refined systems the team plans on going further than ever before in RoboSub 2019.