Students from the University of Sheffield took the plunge at an underwater robotics
competition in the USA.

The team from a range of the university’s Engineering
departments faced off against more than 60 teams from across the globe at the Marine Advanced Technology
Education (MATE) International ROV Competition from 23-25 June 2017.

This year the team of nine were the first team from England to enter the competition at this level of robotics. They tested their Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) against a series of tests aimed around the theme of ‘sea ports of the future’, and showed off their robot’s range of applications.

Part of the ROV MATE Team and robot

Team Leader, Khaled Saad, said: “The competition has allowed us to apply what we have learnt during our studies to a real life scenario. It feels like a real life project for a company and working to a brief with a team of specialists in different fields. For me, the idea of managing every aspect of the project – from the budget to the time scales to the people – was the main reason I wanted to do this. You can’t learn these skills in a lecture theatre.”

Their robot, Cuppa, was specially crafted by the team to combat common problems of underwater craft using a range of techniques learnt across several disciplines of engineering, including Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Aerospace Engineering.

The team’s craft has been designed to perform a range of tasks in the water. They adapted the robot so it pulls water through a number of motors to make it easier to control while maintaining maximum manoeuvrability.

Mechanical Engineering student, Abhinav Kongari, said: “We wanted something that is light weight but durable that could go into the water. We needed something that could be easily controlled as well and could do a range of tasks. It had to be able to move fluidly so it could move between boats and rocks easily and adapt to the situation. We also had to meet the competition criteria in the terms of size and weight. It’s been a challenge for all of us.”

The team has been sponsored by Thales, a partner of the University of Sheffield’s Automatic Control and Systems Engineering department, who specialise in producing tools to create a safer working environment in industries like aerospace, defence and transportation.

For more information about engineering courses or research opportunities, contact the University of Sheffield’s Engineering faculty by visiting www.sheffield.ac.uk/engineering or calling 0114 222 9729.