Nadir Kapetanović, Anja Babić, Ivan Lončar, Igor Kvasić, Vladimir Slošić, Allan Badian
It was a busy start of the year for members of the IEEE OES University of Zagreb Student Branch Chapter. As most COVID – related measures have been relaxed, many of the long-due field trials finally got completed. Field trials in bay Bistrina near Dubrovnik as part of the InnovaMare roadshow and field trials in Venice are just some of the sea trial events our members attended lately. Besides that, as every year we participated in the Croatian Festival of Science and took a prestigious award at the 13th International Agriculture Innovation Fair AgroArca in Prelog, Croatia. Most of all, we are excited that our small branch community is growing as visiting students joined our research group and happily shared their experience about working and staying in Croatia.
Field trials in Bistrina bay, Croatia, April 2022
As a part of InnovaMare project, a so-called roadshow demo event named “Transforming Blue Economy for Sustainable Adriatic Sea” was held on the premises of the Laboratory for Mariculture, University of Dubrovnik in Bistrina bay, Croatia. Our members Anja Babić, Nadir Kapetanović, Vladimir Slošić and Kristijan Krčmar prepared the equipment for the demos on site April 25th-28th, while the main demo event took place on April 29th.
The main objective of the demo was to showcase our autonomous vehicles capabilities and ongoing equipment integrations. This included the autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) Korkyra and its subsystems used in autonomous inspection missions, i.e., surveillance camera, integration with Blueye Pro ROV, a tether management system (TMS) for the ROV, a landing platform for a UAV, and WaterLinked UWGPS G2 system for acoustic underwater localization of the ROV.
In spite of the issues such as the punctured hull of the ASV Korkyra that was luckily detected on the first day and fixed right away on the next day, most of the performance tests went well. On Wednesday, April the 27th, while ASV Korkyra’s hulls were getting dried, we managed to have a secondary setup of the underwater acoustic system deployment, so a rubber boat acted as the baseline of the SBL system. This was followed by a successful integration of the GNSS equipment with the UWGPS G2 system for relative-to-global coordinate frame reprojections. Also, the TMS, controlled based on the measured distance of the ROV from the ASV, was successfully tested both on Wednesday and on Thursday, April the 28th, when the ASV was deployed in the sea.
The other main demonstration was that of the newly developed surface unit for the Multifunctional Smart Buoys project. The field trials at Bistrina marked the first deployment of the buoy unit, as well as another test for two previously deployed underwater acoustic sensor units.
The units were deployed in the bay for 3 days total, with the sensor units gathering water quality data and sending it to the surface unit, while the surface unit collected temperature, GPS, and camera data, and relayed all of the acquired information to an online dashboard for user-friendly visualization.
On the last day of our stay in Bistrina bay, Friday, 29th of April, we set up two nearby demo locations for our showcase. Autonomous buoys and sensor units were presented in front of the main building, while ASV Korkyra and its subsystems were showcased at the deployment location nearby. A large gazebo was set up to enable Anja and Nadir to show video streams and measurements from various subsystems on a large screen TV.
The attendees of the demo were very interested in all aspects of the equipment that was presented to them and wished to see these systems developed even further and hopefully even commercially available.
Festival of Science, May 2022
After two years of online events, we finally welcomed another live edition of the Festival of Science in Croatia. The Festival of Science is a manifestation that has been continuously organized in Croatia since 2003 with the aim of bringing science closer to the public through informing about activities and results in the field of science, improving the public perception of scientists, and motivating young people to research and acquire new knowledge. We were all born curious; as small children we wonder why the sky is blue and the grass is green, and when we grow up we become productive members of society. The yearning for additional knowledge and the stimulation of inner curiosity at all ages is a worthy goal for which the Festival of Science stands. The organizers of the Festival are Universities of Split, Zagreb, Rijeka, Zadar and Osijek in cooperation with the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum and the British Council, under the high patronage of the Ministry of Science and Education.
As it was the case in previous years, the IEEE OES UNIZG student chapter and the Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technologies were happy to participate in one of the 200 or so events at this year’s Festival of Science with the theme – LIFE. As we all know, life on Earth began in water, and science and robots continue to make life easier and better every day. What is the connection between robots and water, what does the underwater world look like in virtual reality, and how robots can help fish and mussel farming were just some of the interesting topics participants could find out about at the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla. For those who were interested in how research robots were brought to life and how they became autonomous and wanted to try controlling underwater and surface robots, presentations were held at the LABUST laboratory at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. Visitors of all ages got the chance of achieving a truly immersive experience and got a different perspective on life and science, because introducing science from a young age means in turn a better future for all of us.
The 13th International Agriculture Innovation Fair AgroArca, Prelog, Croatia, May 2022
Nadir Kapetanović and Kristijan Krčmar participated in the competition programme of the 13th International Agriculture Innovation Fair AgroArca. The fair took place in the small town of Prelog in Croatia, on 13-15th of May, 2022. It was organized by the Croatian Association of Innovators and the City of Prelog and gathered 130 exhibitors from 11 countries.
As a part of the HEKTOR project, they showcased the ASV Korkyra and its subsystems – the landing platform, the tether management system, as well as the acoustic localization system and Blueye Pro ROV integrations. Our colleagues from LARICS laboratory at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing University of Zagreb showcased their all-terrain mobile robot (ATMR) ViV that is developed for autonomous inspection and spraying in steep kartic vineyards.
ASV Korkyra won the Grand Prix, while ATMR won the Golden medal. On that occasion, President of the Croatian Association of Innovators, prof. dr. sc. Miljenko Šimpraga commented on the importance of innovations in agriculture and especially emphasized the development of innovations in cooperation with the academic community. A total of 16 gold, 18 silver and 21 bronze medals in the categories of young innovators and senior innovators were awarded at AGRO ARCA 2022.
Intelligent Autonomous Systems – IAS-17 Conference Zagreb, June 2022
17th international conference on Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS-17) was held in Zagreb from June 13th to June 16th, 2022. The conference was organized by Intelligent Autonomous Systems Society, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, KoREMA, ACROSS and DATACROSS. At the conference, our member, Vladimir Slošić, presented the paper “Acoustical Underwater Localization of a Remotely Operated Vehicle in Mariculture” as one of the coauthors. At the beginning, project HEKTOR was presented and its main challenges, after that the integration of the catamaran Korkyra was explained and shown to the audience. At the end, results of the testing of acoustical underwater localization in the pool and at sea were presented and discussed. All the gathered data was made with the Waterlinked Underwater GPS system.
Vladimir Slošić presented the paper at the IAS-17conference
Venice InnovaMare Trials, June 2022
As a part of the InnovaMare project, joint field trials between project partners were held in Venice on 20-22 June. Anja Babić and Martin Oreč participated in the experiments as representatives of LABUST, joined by researchers from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) in Genoa and Venice.
The main objective of the trials was to demonstrate the possibilities of cooperation in innovation on robotic and sensor solutions. Thus, the LABUST Multifunctional Smart Buoy surface unit and the CNR catamaran-like surface vehicle SWAMP (Shallow Water Autonomous Multipurpose Platform) were integrated into a single environmental monitoring and surveying system.
The vehicles communicated via Wi-Fi, with the buoy serving as a relay, sending collected data to an online IoT dashboard, providing real-time access to the status of the SWAMP catamaran as it went about an algae mapping mission.
Initial integration tests were performed in the historic Arsenale of Venice for the first two days of the trials, while the third day was reserved for more challenging deployment off the side of two boats near the abandoned island of Sant’Angelo della Polvere in the Venice Lagoon.
The trials were successful and served as an excellent logistics challenge, offering opportunities to test and practice buoy deployment, retrieval, and mooring options in a variety of conditions, as well as a stress test for the buoy.
Internship story by Allan Badian
In June our SBC got another member – Allan Badian from the Microelectronics & Automation department of engineering school Polytech Montpellier from Montpellier, France. He stayed with us for two months on an internship. Below is the story about his internship experience:
“To validate my 4th year of electrical & automation engineering studies, I carried out a 2-month internship at LABUST. It was my first experience with underwater robotics. I joined the team of Nadir Kapetanović to work on the Tether Management System (TMS) mounted on the autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) Korkyra developed in the scope of the HEKTOR project.
“I polished and refactored the code of the system, and also made a lot of tests in both computer simulation and pool tests with ASV and Blueye ROV in the laboratory. The TMS links the Blueye ROV to the ASV Korkyra and uses underwater acoustic localization (UWGPS) to track the ROV in order to wind/unwind the right amount of tether cable automatically.
“The first challenge was to achieve an in-depth understanding of the way that the TMS operates. As I was going through refactoring steps, I discussed with Nadir about some new ideas and features and a tracking method for the ROV in order to use the TMS motor less. It was really great to debate about what approaches were better to solve problems we had.
“The setup for the pool tests was a bit challenging because the acoustic localization is not as precise in an 8x4x3m pool (due to multipath issues) as in the open sea, but overall it worked quite well.
“During my time in Croatia, I also did a quick trip to Split. I spent time near Diocletian’s Palace, in the old town, and along the Riva promenade. I used one full day to join a group tour by boat to visit Komiža (island of Vis), Stiniva Cove, Budikovac and Town Hvar. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go to the famous Blue Cave because the waves were too big to enter safely.
“Finally, I really enjoyed working with the LABUST team and the project was interesting. It was a great introduction to underwater robotics. I also deepen my experience in projects, programming using ROS, microcontrollers and developing software in Linux OS. It feels good to realize and apply what I learned at school. I would definitely come back to Croatia some day!”
Conclusion and future plans
Finally, it was a busy but fruitful start of the year at the IEEE OES University of Zagreb Student Branch Chapter. All the hard work finally got validated in pool and sea trials and experiment results got accepted or published in 10 conference and 3 journal papers this year. Beside presenting at the aforementioned IAS-17 conference, our members sent four of their publications to the upcoming 14th IFAC Conference on Control Applications in Marine Systems, Robotics and Vehicles (CAMS 2022) and five research papers to the OCEANS 2022 Hampton Roads conference, happening in October this year. Two papers got published in the April and May editions of the MDPI Sensors Journal, and another one got accepted for the Marine Technology Society (MTS) Journal.
In future plans, one of the biggest yearly events co-organized by our SBC, ”Breaking the Surface 2022” workshop, is coming up from September 25th to October 2nd this year. As always, our members are preparing a dedicated social event night related to IEEE OES, many exciting demos and tutorials during the week-long workshop and a novelty of this edition – the Acoustic Localization Challenge. Participants of the challenge will be asked to locate a hidden submerged pinger using nothing but passive acoustic receivers. Teams are going to be guided by world leading underwater acoustics experts through lectures and tutorials on the topic, and the team that obtains the most accurate estimate of the pinger’s location will be awarded. More information about the whole event and registration options at bts.fer.hr.