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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/D028035/1
Title: Student Autonomous Underwater vehicle Challenge Europe (SAUCE)
Principal Investigator: Petillot, Professor Y
Other Investigators:
Pebody, Dr M Lane, Professor D
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
DSTL MOD System Technologies - Swift 943 Ltd
Department: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 15 November 2005 Ends: 14 November 2010 Value (£): 183,951
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Robotics & Autonomy Underwater Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
This proposal aims at creating a yearly European Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) challenge similar to the AUV competition currently run in the US/Canada. The goals of this competition are to advance the state-of-the-art of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles by challenging a new generation of engineers to perform realistic missions in the underwater environment and to foster ties between young engineers and the organizations involved in AUV technologies. It is designed as a mini-grand challenge for the autonomous underwater community which will create a suitable environment for interdisciplinary interactions between academic researchers to allow real breakthrough.The challenge would be run for an initial period of 5 years and would be opened to any team comprising at least 75 % of students. Other team members could be professionals or academics. After the revolution of the 1970's, where remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) where first introduced amidst wide-spread scepticism from the off-shore industry, we are now seeing a new revolution, mainly driven by cost and deep-water exploration needs, where autonomous vehicles (i.e. no tether and support ship) are offering a new choice for ocean surveys, exploration, mapping, monitoring and surveillance. As a consequence, several commercial vehicles are now available. However, whilst the engineering challenges have been mainly addressed, real autonomy is a largely unresolved problem. Solving it will require inputs from a new generation of highly motivated researchers and engineers. Fostering interest amongst engineering and computer science students and training them early will be the key to create the critical mass to allow a real breakthrough. Undergraduate students taking part will also be exposed to faculty and research issues, encouraging them to consider postgraduate education. This will have a broader impact on autonomous vehicles as a whole (UAVs, Space Landers) as they share common problems.Similar competitions in other fields have a track record of fostering innovation and creative thinking as demonstrated by Murphy[10]: The potential impact of these competitions on research should not be underestimated. The AAAI national conference hosts increasing numbers of demonstrations of software agents playing competitive games. Currently only a handful of expensive vehicles requiring a support ship and large infrastructure are available in Europe. Building small scale, inexpensive vehicles will enable research to be carried out at low cost and provide the necessary resources for complex multiple vehicle work. It will also feed through to the marine science community where there is requirement for vehicles with low operational overhead. Such vehicles will have to be robust, easy to operate and have sufficient on board autonomy to allow them to manoeuvre around and avoid obstacles.
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Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk