U of A students create robotic submarine, now headed to international competition

Students at the University of Alberta have developed an unmanned robotic submarine. Global News

A group of students at the University of Alberta unveiled their latest project Saturday: a robotic submarine capable of heading into the depths of the ocean completely unmanned.

“It’s a self-driving sub — it has a bunch of different tasks to do by itself,” said business team leader Jon Machinski. “So there’s torpedoes — it has to fire at targets. The robotic vision systems can identify objects underwater like buoy systems [and] touch them in the right order, and drop markers in certain areas.”

Engineering students raised over $35,000 to construct the submarine. Since then, the AVRP, or Autonomous Robotic Vehicle Project, has been a constant work-in-progress, with students completing it just in time to attend an international competition in San Diego next month.

“It’s not a part of school — we do this through the U of A’s support,” Machinski said.  “All the kids involved, they learn through their own experiences, and build on those skill-sets to impress employers.”

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This year, the team expanded their project to involve more students and get the robot to do more.

“Our team is really smart,” said team member Noni Hua. “We just developed a new algorithm using a neural network to detect the buoy, and it’s super- reliable — it’s got 98 per cent reliability. Before that, we were using colour-based and shape-based detections.”

The robo-sub competition kicks off on July 24 in San Diego.

Engineering students work on the Autonomous Robotic Vehicle Project. Global News

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