August 27, 2004

Cornell Sub Wins Second

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This summer, a team of 17 Cornell students took second place in the Fifth International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition, held July 31 – Aug. 1 in San Diego. A total of 18 teams competed from across the globe.

First place was given to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, though the Cornell team’s computer-controlled sub performed remarkably. The team received a prize of $5,000. The team was composed of many first-time competitors who worked on updating the submarine’s technology by completely rebuilding the control electronics inside the 2-meter-long machine.

“The students performed like winners. I’m very proud of them,” said Prof. Kevin Kornegay, electrical and computer engineering, who advised the team.

The competition changes annually. This year’s task for the submarines was to navigate a bank of drop boxes with a vertical LED post at the far end, set on an incline. The submarines were allotted points for dropping markers into bins according to the bin location. After dropping two markers, the subs then followed the tones generated by audio pingers to the recovery zone, where they surfaced.

The subs were autonomous, meaning they followed an internal computer control and were not directly operated by members of the team.

“This is the first year Cornell, or any team, has entered a vehicle that showed such an advanced level of autonomy,” James Buescher ’03, the team’s captain, said.

The team was led by Buescher, along with technical director David Novick, team leader Ryan Stenson ’04, Doug Todoroff, U.S. Office of Naval Research; and head diver Kirk Pile. Team members included Bryan Silverthorn ’05, Keisuke Nakagawa ’04, David Hinkes ’04, Scott Weeks ’04, Philip Sieh ’03, Alex Shih ’05, Vlad Muste ’03, Mike DeLance grad, J. Dan Weaver, ’03, Renaldi Winoto ’03, Walter Chang ’02, Vikash Goel grad, Musyoka Munyoki grad, Sean Welch grad and Dave Hays ’01.

Dean W. Kent Fuchs, engineering, commended the team for their outstanding work even though he was unable to attend the competition.

“I am exceptionally proud of the students’ performance and commitment,” Fuchs said. “Professor Kornegay’s commitment to the students has also been exceptional. Each year the students have performed a little bit better under his guidance,” he added.

Lockheed Martin, R.D. Instruments, Nauticos, C & C Technologies and Tektronix sponsored the event, and the team received extensive support at Cornell from the Provost’s Office, the College of Engineering, the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Computer Science and the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Archived article by Missy Kurzweil

Sun Staff Writer