A team from the University of Bath has been out in Italy with its own autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) as part in a pan-European competition for underwater robots

TeamBathMarine (above, launching the AUV) has been taking part in the latest European Robotics League (ERL) competition for emergency robots.

The team developed an autonomous robot that can be used for marine search and rescue missions. They were part of the first Local Tournament on the ERL Emergency Robots (ERL-ER) challenge for 2018, held at the NATO STO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation at La Spezia in Italy. It included land and underwater robots working in an outdoor realistic environment.

The underwater challenges included the scenario of a Yacht accident in the harbour, where the yacht hits a gas pipeline, damaging it. The pipeline starts leaking and in a few moments, an explosion takes place. The massive explosion affects also the pipeline section on land and people that were in the docks area are disperse.

The AUV needs to reach the disaster area avoiding obstacles, inspect the pipelines area to find one pipe that is on fire (a marker). The damaged pipe has to be communicated to the land robots. The land robots must localize and close the valve on the land section of the same pipe.

The pipes have emergency sensors (an acoustic pinger) which acoustically communicate with a Smart City infrastructure to update their status, and the underwater robots need to find the emitting pinger to localize the leak.

The challenge also includes finding a mannequin that has fallen in the water within 30 minutes.

The competition was won by a team from the University of Florence, and there’s a video of  the teams at https://www.youtube.com/embed/aYZZ_XUO2DQ