IIT-Bombay’s ‘Matsya’ accoladed in AUVSI Robosub 2016
The Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) ‘Matsya’ has secured the second position in AUVSI Robosub 2016. It was adjudged the best performance by an Asian team. The team beat six-time winner Cornell University; however, it lost to secure the first position by a small margin to Caltech University.
This year, the Robosub competition was held during July 27-31 in San Diego, California. More than 45 universities from around the world competed to create the most effective autonomous submarine. The teams were scored on their designs, technological innovations and performance in a series of obstacle courses. What makes this competition really challenging is that the robots are autonomous, their actions are pre-programmed and they are on their own to complete the objectives without any intervention from the teams.
AUV-IITB’s Matsya had a near-flawless run in the competition this time. They qualified on the first day itself, performed exceptionally in the semi-finals and finals without any retries. In fact, Matsya was the only submarine to successfully attempt two of the most complicated tasks. Also, it was the only AUV able to decide whether it has successfully completed a task or not and re-attempt if required. This was possible only because of several hours of testing put in by the team to make Matsya sufficiently intelligent.
Some other tasks that Matsya performed efficiently include identifying colored objects, locating sound sources, dropping markers and shooting torpedoes. Matsya was the only team to attempt all tasks barring one. As a result, Matsya received accolades from the competition organizers.
AUV-IITB’s journey in this competition started just five years ago with a small group of students who shared a passion for underwater robotics. The first vehicle grabbed many eyeballs as a debutante but had a lot of scope for improvements. The stability, robustness and capability of the AUV has improved in the following years. While progressing and developing such underwater vehicles, the main difficulties which arise are underwater position control and waterproofing of the submarine. Making the vehicle intelligent enough to be able to take independent decisions is another seemingly-impossible task. After years of development, the endurance of the submarine has increased six-fold. This is an accomplishment on its own. Bagging the second position in the world has motivated the team even more. The team members have now set their eyes set on bagging the first position by creating the best AUV in the world.