May 03 2011

TAA Seaperch Team Presents SPUTNAZ-T

Published by at 6:34 pm under Competitions

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SEAPERCH Underwater Robotics project sponsored by the Navy, MIT, Drexel 4/16/11

Robotics Team: Sam Anthony, David Null, Eli Holmes, The American Academy

Project included assembly and design of the robot, testing in Drexel pool to perform a specific task, creating marketing materials to “sell” the Sputnaz-T as a superior product, and giving a presentation to five naval officers about the engineering and performance of the robot.  The task in the pool was to navigate an underwater obstacle course, cap the leaking BP oil pipe, and collect ping pong balls which represented an oil slick, under a time constraint.  The Sputnaz-T was able to complete the obstacle course and cap the well within the time constraint; we did not collect the ping pong balls.  Few of the 40 participating schools capped the well, so the TAA team was successful at completing the primary goal of the mission.

Presentation given by Sam Anthony, with additional comments by David Null and Eli Holmes.  The TAA team was professional and wore tie and jacket for their business presentation.  The TAA team also produced a short video for their presentation, a company T-shirt, and a marketing brochure.

?-Naval engineering principles/ fluid propulsion on the Sputnaz-T underwater robot

Our team made several changes to the Sputnaz-T which affected its buoyancy, maneuverability, and speed.  Foremost amongst these was our choice of motor layout.  We angled our motors for maneuverability and ease of control rather than speed, due to the nature of the tasks it must perform.  We did this by attaching the two rearward-facing motors with their propellers pointed back and to the side, rather than straight back.  This positioning allows the craft to be steered from side to side, with a loss of some forward momentum that propellers pointed straight backwards would provide.

We positioned our depth-controlling propeller pointed downward, so that it can pull the craft downward from the surface without assistance.  If the propeller were pointed upwards, it would clear the water and be unable to generate any thrust.  We used the precise amount of floatation material to achieve a neutral buoyancy- not too heavy, not too light.  Initial tests in the pool showed that the Sputnaz-T was too back-heavy, so a repositioning of the weighted camera and addition of a portion of a floatation device to the back was necessary.  If it gets wet you know who to get: Sputnaz-T!

For more information about this exciting opportunity for our students, please see the Sea Perch website at:

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