The oceans span over seventy percent of the Earth’s surface and are one of the biggest contributors to human civilization. Learning to navigate its waters has provided exploration, resources, food, trade and migration. Much of the oceans still remain unexplored and untapped due to its hostile environment, unpredictability, and high operational costs.
The National University of Singapore’s Team Bumblebee is a student-run, multi-disciplinary robotics team with students from both the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Computing. The team is split into four main sub-teams: Mechanical, Electrical, Software, and Business Development. These students are also a group of innovators, who envision building autonomous systems of the future, where they collectively design and build Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs) to navigate across these oceans independently – from the shore and the water surface to deep water. The autonomous maritime vehicles that Bumblebee builds are capable of navigating on the surface and underwater while performing a series of tasks without any remote-control assistance.
For the past six years, the team has been participating in AUV and, recently, ASV competitions where they pit themselves against world-class teams from around the globe. These competitions include the Singapore Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Challenge (SAUVC) and the AUVSI Foundation’s Maritime RobotX Challenge and International RoboSub Competition.
The RoboSub competition is an exciting underwater robotics program in which student teams from around the world design and build AUVs. These vehicles autonomously navigate through a series of tasks – deigned to mimic ongoing research in underwater systems. The competition is held every year in San Diego, CA at the SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific. The SSC Pacific facility proves the U.S. Navy with research, development, delivery, and support and is advancing the Navy’s employment of next generation unmanned systems and autonomous vehicles.
In order to be prepared for the 2018 RoboSub Competition, Team Bumblebee traveled to San Diego a week before the competition to conduct back-to-back testing in the pool, at their local accommodation. This effort is essential helps to ensure that the vehicle is stable and ready for the upcoming competition, after the long freight shipment from Singapore.
This success would not have been possible if not for the advanced sensor suite and an array of powerful actuators. The sensor suite used on board the Bumblebee AUV 3.5 contains the AHRS-8 and PHOD-1 hydrophones, which were both sponsored by Sparton. The AHRS are integrated into Bumblebee’s systems to provide accurate heading readings. The PHOD-1 hydrophones are used to pick up the acoustic signals to complete one of the most difficult RoboSub challenges.
Sparton has more than a century of experience in designing and building products for the government and industry worldwide – including components such as the inertial systems and advanced acoustic hydrophones used by Team Bumblebee. The team is proud to be able to employ the advance sensors produced by Sparton on its AUV vehicle, and would like to express its thanks to Sparton for its continued support. The team said that they would not have been able to achieve what they have to date without the support they received from Sparton over the years. For its part, Sparton is honored to have been a part in the continued learning and success of Team Bumblebee.