2015 Electrical and Computer Engineering Winners

1st Prize – Team 1504: Command and Control of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Sponsored by- UConn ECE Dept. L.I.N.K.S. and UWSN

Sponsor Advisors –Dr. Shalabh Gupta and Dr. Shengli Zhou

Team: Daanish Zaidi, Samantha McNellis,, Clancy Emanuel

Faculty Advisors – same as Sponsor Advisors

Oceanic exploration and monitoring is quickly becoming an area of intense focus and interest that touches industries and academic pursuits as diverse as energy extraction, shipping, and climatology. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles or AUVs have the ability to monitor a large section of seafloor, loiter near an undersea cable laying operation, inspect shipwrecks, or traverse great distances while gathering valuable oceanographic data, all without any human interaction or guidance. Current AUVs rely on surfacing momentarily to fix their position with GPS for navigation and radio or satellite connections to upload data intermittently, so they are unable to communicate, send data, or fix their position while underwater due to the physical limits of microwave transmission through water.

Senior Design Team 1504’s goal wasto realize the guidance and navigation system for an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. The outcome is an AUV that can receive a destination coordinate encoded as an acoustic signal, fix its positon using a network of acoustic communication modems, and move towards the destination without needing to surface. Now the AUV’s ability to remain underwater is only limited by its battery life. The AUV itself is a combination of an off-the-shelf remote-controlled Thunder Tiger Neptune SB-1 submersible and a fully custom-built electronics package containing a single board computer, Arduino, and the integral acoustic modem processing board among other devices. The electronics package is housed inside a custom Plexiglas box which sits on top of the submersible allowing it to receive commands and communicate with a network of acoustic modems while submerged.

The team built upon the hardware designs from previous senior design teams and thegraduate students of the UWSN lab, and made key adjustments to the power delivery circuitry inside the electronics package to increase reliability. Significant enhancements to the AUV’s control software were made by incorporating the Robot Operating System, an open source robotics software middleware kit, into the project allowing future teams to easily add hardware and software capabilities to the AUV such as cameras for feature detection. A PID controller was also realized in software, which allows the AUV to maintain a givenheading and speed by integrating data from aspecialized marine compass and accelerometer chip.