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Southampton submarine wins top prize

Published: 
19 July 2007

A student-led team from the University of Southampton has triumphed at the European Student Autonomous Underwater Challenge, winning both the overall competition and an award for innovation in autonomy.

The team’s robot submarine Soton Southampton AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) displayed good hydrodynamics, propulsion and battery backup to successfully complete a series of underwater tasks without human interference, beating teams from five other universities from the UK and France.

The four-day competition, hosted by QinetiQ at Haslar in Gosport, was held in Qinetiq’s 120m x 60m ocean testing basin. Teams had to design, build and test their submarines.

This was the second year running that Southampton had entered with a team from its Schools of Engineering Sciences, Electronics and Computer Science, and the Underwater Systems Laboratory at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

First to compete, Soton AUV successfully navigated the course and then had to wait while the other teams attempted the challenge.

Team captain, Alex Phillips, a first-year PhD student in the School of Engineering Sciences, summed up the day: "We put in loads of hard work and are very pleased that the Soton Southampton AUV performed on the day.

"As each successive team attempted the course we began to realise that our run might be enough, with many teams suffering mechanical, control, software or operational failures. It felt great at the dinner to be awarded the prize for winning the competition and especially that for innovation in autonomy."

Designed to inspire innovation and encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers to think about underwater technology and its future possibilities, the event is organised by the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl). Nick Joad, who sat on the judging panel, said: "The standard of competition has been really high this year. I was really impressed with Southampton’s design as it effortlessly completed the tasks."

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