Events June 2020 OES Beacon

Trajectory of the Team Clairvoyance

Kenichi Fujita, Yuya Hamamatsu and Hiroya Yatagai (The University of Tokyo)

The “Team Clairvoyance”, the student team from the University of Tokyo for underwater robot competitions, got the Dean’s Award, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences. This is the story of what we did this year. Enjoy the story!

  • Introduction

“Team Clairvoyance” consists of master course students in the Maki Laboratory, Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo. The goal of our team is to learn and develop underwater technologies, especially for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. To achieve this goal we participated in the underwater robot competitions and learned engineering skills through communications with students from overseas. In addition to just joining the competitions, we also presented, what we felt and what we learned at the competitions, at a domestic forum supported by IEEE/OES Japan chapter.

Our graduate school  recognized our efforts and gave the Dean’s Award to us at the degree conferral ceremony held on March 23, 2020. Here, we would like to introduce our team and some of the  achievements.

Figure 1. Ramen Senrigan[1]
Figure 2. Our AUV passed through the gate[3]
  • The Origin of the team name

The word “clairvoyance” is defined as “the power to see the future or to see things that other people cannot see” in the Cambridge dictionary. We named our team “Team Clairvoyance” for the following two reasons. First, we wanted to make an AUV that accurately analyzes and navigates its surroundings, even in underwater environments where visibility is poor. Second, the word clairvoyance happens to be the direct translation of the name of one of Japan’s most famous and delicious ramen shops, Ramen Senrigan (千里眼) (Figure 1), which is just 5 minutes apart from our laboratory. The noodle encouraged our daily activities a lot and we like it too much.

Figure 3. Our AUV ‘Minty Roll’
Figure 4. Our AUV in the first round [3]
  • OTO’18

Team Clairvoyance attended the two major events, OTO’18 and SAUVC 2019. First, we would like to explain about OTO’18(OCEANS’18 MTS/IEEE Kobe / Techno-Ocean)[2]. Shortly after starting our master course, we competed in the OTO’18 Underwater Robots Competition (AUV class) in Kobe, Japan. In this competition, three teams competed: a team from the Kyushu Institute of Technology, a team from Kyushu Polytech, and us. In this competition, the teams competed for the achievement of the eight missions and required time.  Figure 2 shows our AUV ‘Minty Roll’ at one of the missions. The missions are as follows:

(1) Unattended launch.

(2) Passing through the gate

(3) Landing

(4) Dropping the weight

(5) Touching the buoy

(6) Approaching the target

(7) Homecoming.

(8) Unattended recovery

Although it is evident that using expensive equipments such as DVL makes the challenge easy, we have focused on navigation using inexpensive equipment such as IMUs and cameras. Our AUV (Minty Roll, Figure 3) behaved consistently without major problems and won the first prize in the competition.

Figure 5. Qualification round [3]
Figure 6. Technical exchange with overseas team
  1. SAUVC

After winning at OTO’18, our focus moved to SAUVC (Singapore Autonomous Underwater Robots Challenge), one of the major international competitions of underwater robots. It did not take a long time to decide to participate in the competition. We were eager to join SAUVC, but at that time, we did not have enough funds.  We had started to give up on joining the competition when, fortunately, the OES Japan chapter started a scholarship for SAUVC. We applied for the scholarship and were finally selected. We would like to say a big thanks to the OES Japan chapter. SAUVC consists of three rounds. The first round was a video review of the AUVs to see if they worked correctly. 61 teams applied to the first round and 15 teams were selected. Our team made it through this and was qualified to join the second round held in March 2019 in Singapore. A lot of our efforts went to improve the stability of the control,  making use of our experience in OTO’18. In the second round, the time to get through the gate was contested. Each team put their effort to reduce the time to get through the gate. Our AUV was able to pass through the gate, but not fast enough to advance to the final round (Figure 4, Figure 5).

Our failure in the second round partly comes from a strategic mistake. We paid more attention to stabilization of the ccontrol than the speed of the AUV. The shape and weight of our AUV was not optimized for speed, although it was well designed for stable control. This was our first time participating in the SAUVC and breaking through the first round as a Japanese team. We learned a lot from other teams. We had a lot of chances to actively ask questions about other teams’ technologies. It was a very valuable experience for us (Figure 6).

Figure 7. Undersea Engineering Forum zero[4]
Figure 8. Photo with the award

After coming back from SAUVC, we shared what we have learned through these experiences, for example through OES BEACON and a domestic symposium[4] on underwater technology held in fall 2019 (Figure 7). We strongly believe that our experience is helpful for future challengers for SAUVC and other underwater robot competitions.

  1. Conclusions

In recognition of these achievements, we won the Dean’s Award from the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences of the University of Tokyo (Figure 8) for our significant contribution to international exchange through technical exchanges through the underwater robot contests. We hope our activities encourage Japanese students and researchers to deepen their interest in underwater robots.

  1. Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Prof. Toshihiro Maki, Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, and Ms. Harumi Sugimatsu, OES Japan chapter for their support for our activities.

References (accessed 2020-05-11)

  • Singapore AUV Challenge, (accessed 2020-05-11)
  • Undersea Engineering Forum zero (accessed 2020-05-11)