The University of Southampton

ECS researcher brings home the SAUCE

Published: 20 July 2007

ECS communications researcher Jos Akhtman is part of the Southampton team whose robot submarine won a highly competitive European student challenge this month.

The student-led team from the University of Southampton was competing in the European Student Autonomous Underwater Challenge (SAUC-E), hosted at Haslar in Gosport by Qinetiq. Teams had to design, build and test their submarines, and over the four days Southampton triumphed, winning both the overall competition and an award for innovation in autonomy.

The team's robot submarine Soton AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) displayed good hydrodynamics, propulsion and battery backup to successfully complete a series of underwater tasks without human interference, beating the five other teams from universities from the UK and France.

This was the second year running that Southampton had entered with a team from its Schools of Engineering Sciences, Electronics and Computer Science, and the Underwater Systems Laboratory at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. The team had developed a three webcam image-recognition system as part of a high-level control system that could map and recognize objects. Sponsorship came from REAP Systems Ltd and TSL Technology Ltd.

Team captain, Alex Phillips, a first-year PhD student in the School of Engineering Sciences, summed up the day: 'We put in loads of hard work and are very pleased that the Soton AUV performed on the day.

'As each successive team attempted the course we began to realise that our run might be enough, with many teams suffering mechanical, control, software or operational failures. It felt great at the dinner to be awarded the prize for winning the competition and especially that for innovation in autonomy.'

Southampton team members who took part were Jos Akhtman, Maaten Furlong, Alistair Palmer, Alex Philips, Suleiman Sharkh, and Stephen Turnock.

Designed to inspire innovation and encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers to think about underwater technology and its future possibilities, the event is organised by the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

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