Igor Kvasić, Vladimir Slošić, Luka Mandić, Juraj Obradović, Kristijan Krčmar, Matko Batoš
As we all gladly witness the revival of fieldwork activities and international visits, no one could be more elated with the results they bring than marine roboticists. These activities allow us to gain practical experience, conduct experiments, and apply our theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios but also share results with a broader audience. The IEEE OES University of Zagreb Student Branch Chapter (UNIZG SBC) has undergone a generational change of leadership and remained highly active during the last quarter. As we proudly announced, this February our four years student chapter chair, Anja Babić, successfully defended her PhD thesis titled „A hyper-heuristic approach to achieving long-term autonomy in a heterogeneous swarm of marine robots“. Her student days may be over, but we are confident that she will continue to make significant contributions to her field as she did leading our student chapter.
With a commitment to the advancement of oceanic engineering and science, the chapter organized a diverse range of activities encompassing technical workshops, guest lectures, field trips, and social events. February was particularly busy with many national and international expert professors visits we hosted at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb, but also field work and outgoing visits to world leading winter schools some of our members have attended. Many of our student chapter members participate in the finals of the prestigious Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC), which in this edition includes a maritime grand challenge where they can demonstrate their expertise. The application of autonomous robotic technology is going to be showcased using the autonomous unmanned catamaran given to all finalist participants. As every year, our members happily took part in the Croatian Festival of Science and presented their most recent research results. Finally, after four long years we could finally visit our partner institution in New Zealand and resume in person field trials on an exciting underwater human-robot interaction project. More about that and much more in the rest of the article.
Catamaran for the MBZIRC competition arrival to Rijeka
FER-UNIZG is one of the 5 teams participating in the final phase of the MBZIRC competition. The competition includes the usage of the 8 meter long catamaran, which arrived at the test area in Rijeka in early March, 2023.
For the safe initial deployment and SAT (Site Acceptance Test) test four of our members spent the week from March 7th to 11th. March in Rijeka. There, the first initial assembly of the catamaran was conducted, and dry tests which included tests of all subsystems were conducted by our team members. For the help in the process of conducting SAT tests two employers of the company that produces the catamaran were present on the site. This allowed us to share knowledge and discuss different common interest topics related to ASV navigation, guidance, and control. After basic dry tests were conducted the catamaran was deployed in water and we could test all subsystems of the catamaran in a real environment. Catamaran tests included localization using IMU and GPS tests, manual control tests, and simple path-following tests.
New Zealand field trials
As part of the ROADMAP project, our members Vladimir Slošić and Luka Mandić visited project partners at the Bioengineering Institute in Auckland, New Zealand for field trials. The trials primarily focused on data collection for precise underwater localization, while monitoring diver vital signs. Divers, equipped with the underwater drone in their hands, were monitored using various sensors while swimming in common diving patterns underwater. Data collected from three divers will be used to correlate the swimming patterns to the diver’s movement to achieve better swimming models of the human body. The experiments were conducted in the controlled environment in the public pool area and on the southern shore of Lake Pupuke.
UNWIS event at Padova
From the 30th of January to the 3rd of February 2023, our student chapter vice chair Vladimir Slošić participated in Winter School on Underwater Network simulations at the Department of Information Engineering at the University of Padova, organized by assistant professor Filippo Campagnaro and full professor Michele Zorzi. During the winter school, participants were introduced to DESERT – Underwater Framework for underwater network communication simulations developed at the Department of Information Engineering at the University of Padova. Presenters have shown how DESERT was developed, what are the main parts and logic behind protocol structure and protocol itself. Participants also learned how to integrate the DESERT on the real EvoLogics modems and how to use it for the emulation and analysis of the network.
Krk LNG inspections using ROV
On 1st of February 2023, our lab member Kristijan Krčmar went filming the underwater LNG pipeline between the island of Krk and the mainland with the BluEye ROV.
The gas pipeline consists of a steel pipe and a concrete casing that protects the pipe from corrosion and external influences. Since the pipe stretches for 700 meters, the pipeline was recorded 4 times, two times in both directions from different sides of the pipe. The main section of the pipeline is at a depth of 50 meters where fine sediment in the water reflected the light beam and slowed down the recording.
Altogether, we had very good weather and calm sea and we enjoyed working on this project. We are looking forward to any new task where we can utilize our ASV to solve problems that would otherwise require unnecessary deep dives from divers.
Festival of science in Zagreb
The Festival of Science is the most important and comprehensive manifestation of the popularization of science in Croatia, which is celebrated in educational, cultural, and scientific institutions in Zagreb, Rijeka, Osijek, Split, Zadar, Pula, Dubrovnik, and numerous other cities throughout Croatia. Series of events of various contents: lectures, screenings, demonstrations of experiments, workshops, forums, performances, etc., intended to popularize science, primarily among youth, but also other target groups. In this way, young people are encouraged to continue their education at technical faculties and faculties of natural sciences. Attendees of the program are mostly youth, primary and high school students, and college students, while some programs are also intended for preschoolers. Interest in the event is also shown by other generations and visitor profiles.
In Zagreb, most of the programs traditionally take place in the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla, where alongside 300 other participants, LABUST team members also took part on April 28th, 2023. The official theme of this year’s Festival was Nature and Society. Nature and society are especially intertwined in ecology and matters of nature protection. As part of our program, a platform was set up at the pool in our laboratory, which was monitored by cameras and operated with a joystick in real-time. Interesting and stimulating challenges were presented, which are part of everyday life in underwater systems and technologies, as something that everyone can understand and master.
Expert visits at LABUST
On February 13th, 2023, LABUST in Zagreb hosted dr.sc. Neven Cukrov of the Institute Ruđer Bošković in Zagreb. As part of his expert visit, Neven participated in extensive brainstorming and experiment design related to the SOUND project, leveraging his expertise and connections to plan field trials and provide access to relevant deployment spots in fisheries across the Adriatic. Neven also participated in discussions of potential future projects related to marine noise pollution.
From February 13th to 16th, 2023, LABUST in Zagreb hosted Liav Nagar and Alik Chebotar from the University of Haifa, Underwater Acoustic & Navigation Lab. Liav and Alik participated in extensive planning and conceptualizing of both hardware and software systems related to the SOUND project.
From February 15th to 17th, 2023, LABUST in Zagreb hosted prof. Nuno Alexandre Cruz of the University of Porto, Portugal. As part of his expert visit, he gave a lecture titled “Science-based Innovation in Marine Robotics” at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. Prof. Cruz then participated in several days of invaluable planning, brainstorming, and know-how exchange with UWIN-LABUST researchers
As part of the UWIN-LABUST project, the Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technologies in collaboration with the IEEE Croatia Section – Robotics and Automation Chapter and IEEE OES University of Zagreb Student Branch Chapter on the February 15th, Prof. Roee Diamant, Dept. of Marine Technologies, University of Haifa, Israel held the lecture on topic “How to explore the world of marine fauna using underwater acoustic signal processing”.