Robosub 2019: Prequel

Posted by Rumman Waqar on July 22, 2019

Auri, our robot, is shipped and we are ready to go. While we wait, read a little about our last week before competition. It all started when we said:

We have five days to till competition; let us book 18 hours of pool time.

To say the least, it was a roller coaster ride full of high fives and sleepless nights. I am an engineer, so I will now draw a graph.

10th July 2019

Today, our goal is for Auri to navigate through the gate while rolling and spinning, and then hit the two buoys.

Attempt #1: robot missed the gate.

Attempt #2: robot missed the gate.


Attempt #5: robot successfully went through the gate.

High fives all around as the team celebrates. Now on to the buoys. The robot gets to the buoy but every time we try to ram it, we hit a mysterious bug in the code. Soon it is 10 PM and we go home.

12th July 2019

The bug is fixed. We start with the buoy. Perfect hits every time. More high fives.

Now, we combine the two tasks for a full gate mission with buoys. We go through the gate, but hit the bug again. Will this mysterious bug be ARVP's downfall? We will try again tomorrow and find out.

13th July 2019

Today is media day. News stations from all over Edmonton are here. We really need Auri to be on her best behaviour today.

We start with the same goal; go through the gate and hit the buoy. It works. We try again. It works again. I decide to be a little bold and we untether the robot. Its completely on its own now. 3/3 Auri completes the mission. A couple of interviews and we go home happy.

14th July 2019

We have 7 hours of pool time today. The goal is simple: shoot a torpedo through the target autonomously.

We start simple. Get the robot to approach the target while I write some code to help Auri aim. Three hours in, the approach was good each time. Now on to shooting. It just didn’t work. We tried again and again but Auri was just a little too unstable.

I guess writing code at the side of a pool is not my forte.

15th July 2019

I did what I do best. Put on some Billie Eilish (don’t judge me) and figure out how to make the auri more stable. Some semicolons here, some numbers there, and we are feeling more hopeful.

We get to the pool and BAM! Auri scores. Again and again Auri continues to aim and shoot. The team is ecstatic. I hear someone is the background say:

We are ready for Robosub 19

We end the pool test to go enjoy some chicken wings. We have earned them today.

16th July 2019

This is last day before we ship Auri. We are feeling great. The goal is to do the full mission: go through the gate, hit the buoys and shoot torpedoes.

While preparing for the pool test, we realize our tether (the cable we use to connect to the robot) is not working. Stress levels are at an all time high. We have a robot that works but no way to turn it on.

We swing into full gear. Calling suppliers, looking at what we already have...

17th July 2019

We find an old cable but to make it fit, we have to drill a hole in the robot. When you have an underwater robot, you can’t take something like this lightly. One miscalculation and that’s the end of Auri.

We take our time and, over the course of the day, install the new tether. Time to test. We have a green light.

Before I say goodbye, I would like to thank Robert Donovan. Robert has been coming in and diving for us at every pool test this year. He brings an amazingly positive attitude, a smile and a box of donuts every day. Without his help, we wouldn’t be here.


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