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2008 Media

For Immediate Release                                                      

Media Contacts:

Pamela Small

Director of Public Relations

(386) 226-6157

Pamela.small@erau.edu

Bob Ross

Asst. Dir., Media Relations

(386) 226-6198

 Robert.ross@erau.edu

 

Three Kids and a Robot Learn to Save the Day

 

Prescott, Ariz., June 23, 2008 – A military transport airplane has just gone down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Senegal. It was carrying a world-renowned scientist, four vials of an anti-Ebola virus serum, and a hand-held computer with notes for fighting an Ebola disease outbreak in central Africa.

Your mission: send a remote-controlled rescue robot into the sunken plane’s fuselage and bring back the serum and the hand-held computer.

This crisis is fiction, but it could easily be fact. It was the simulated scenario faced by three first-year students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, who won first place in the university division at the National Underwater Robotics Challenge, held June 6-8 in Chandler, Ariz. 

Eduardo Moreno, Cory Ravetto, and Rene Valenzuela, who are majoring in aerospace engineering at the university’s Prescott, Ariz., campus, designed and built their winning vehicle, “Medusa,” in only three months.

The robot’s domed shape – medusa is Spanish for “jellyfish” – stood out among other contestants’ box-shaped entries and also won the judges award for most unique design at the three-day competition.

“We just combined our knowledge,” said Ravetto, who met his teammates in freshman engineering classes last year.

Aside from a few electronic parts, the Embry-Riddle students manufactured all hardware for the robot.

“Because there were only three of us, we had to do everything. It taught me a lot about engineering,” said Valenzuela, who worked on the robot’s sensors and video camera and “drove” the vehicle.

Student teams were judged on their technical report, oral presentation, and simulated rescue mission. During the rescue, teams had to make their remote-controlled underwater robots locate a submerged aircraft at night in a pool, navigate inside the fuselage, and perform a variety of tasks.

In addition to retrieving the four vials of serum and the hand-held computer, the robots had to measure the temperature where the serum was found to ensure its viability, measure the depth of the transport plane, and retrieve the “black box” flight recorder from the downed plane’s cockpit.

All tasks were performed at night to replicate the low light levels of the ocean floor and used remote control and onboard camera feeds. 

The Embry-Riddle students were advised by John Nafziger, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

The robotics challenge was organized by the Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education, with participation by Arizona State University and other sponsors.

PHOTOS of the students and their robot: http://www.erau.edu/er/newsmedia/newsreleases/2008/robotteam.html

The Embry-Riddle students discuss their project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhq8lKrUgPY

The Embry-Riddle students test their robot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpxQoTK1zIk

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, offers more than 30 degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business, and Engineering. The university educates more than 34,000 students annually in undergraduate and graduate programs at residential campuses in Prescott, Ariz., and Daytona Beach, Fla., through its Worldwide Campus at more than 130 centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, and through online learning. For more information, visit www.erau.edu.

 

 

News AP Forums.com

2008, June

 

 Students from Phoenix Country Day School earned the top score in the Pre-High School Division and first place overall in a National Underwater Robotics Competition, the Honeywell Hometown Solutions National Underwater Robotics Challenge, held June 6-8 at Chandler High School.  (See http://www.h2orobotics.org) The event was sponsored by Honeywell Hometown Solutions and APASE, the Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education. Twenty-one teams participated in the competition. PCDS competed at the Pre-High School Level and for the Overall Award against all the other pre-high school, high school, university and professional teams. Other competitors included Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, ASU Polytechnic Institute, ASU School of Engineering, four professional engineering teams and high school and pre-high school teams from Arizona and California.
The PCDS Blue Tide team members are Amy Aube (Northeast Phoenix), Kevin Heath (Ahwatukee), James Hobin (Anthem), Kyle Jackson (Paradise Valley), Rohit Kothur (Paradise Valley), Ben Mattinson (Paradise Valley), Frances Rucker (Paradise Valley), Joe Schornak (Northeast Phoenix) and Avery Silverman (Paradise Valley). These students just celebrated their eighth-grade commencement at PCDS June 4.  The team mentors are Mark Schornak, Joan Silverman, Kevin Jackson, Patrick Heath and Rob Mattinson. Dennis Kohlman and Peter Wettenstein contributed industry advice.
    The teams were all given a scenario depicting an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Khartoum, Sudan.  A noted physician was on his way to Khartoum with much-needed serum to combat the disease.  The airplane he was flying in crashed 165 miles off the coast of Senegal, leaving all the doctor’s important research and vials of serum at the bottom of the ocean.  The mission required the teams to build an underwater robot, called an ROV (Robotic Oceanographic Vehicle), which would retrieve the badly needed equipment and the serum which would cure the deadly virus. 
    All the participating teams built ROVs to retrieve certain objects and to collect important data from a mock-up of a crashed airplane located at the bottom of a pool.  The competition was at night and in the dark, to simulate a deep underwater search. 
    The PCDS team, the Blue Tide, is a rookie, or first year, pre-high school team.  Blue Tide’s ROV is named Lloyd.  The team began working on the project in March 2008, first building an ROV with all of the materials that came directly from the competition sponsors.  It took about 6 weeks to put together this ROV, but after testing, they realized they needed more power and added extra thrusters and a new frame design.  The new ROV is also called Lloyd. 
    The challenges in an underwater competition are huge. Everything has to be watertight. The robot has to have speed, power, and fine control in all directions. The students designed and built their own circuits and programmed a controller so they could tell the robot what to do. The ROV needed sensors to measure temperature, depth, and sound. Particularly frustrating were multiple hydrophone failures and buoyancy problems—it wouldn’t float!.  The team designed and built many different versions of the needed devices, trying to get them to work properly.  The ROV was tested in the pool at PCDS at night, to work out the kinks.
    All the hard work came together Saturday night.  The ROV went into the pool at about 9:50 p.m.  The PCDS team was Team 4.  The ROV was remotely controlled.  The drivers of the ROV were poolside looking away from the pool at television and projector screens, which showed them what the ROV was doing in the pool.  The tether handlers for the ROV were monitoring the tether.  However, they were not allowed to speak with the drivers about the mock-up or the location of the ROV.
The only light source was LED lights mounted on the ROV.  The only pictures of the mission came from the ROV’s own camera system.  The drivers used two cameras which, when used in conjunction with two borrowed PCDS projectors, created a 3D image on a 6’ by 6’ screen.  The drivers wore special polarized glasses to see the 3D image through Lloyd’s cameras.  The strategy worked.  The PCDS team brought home first place in the Pre-high School Division and first place overall, with the PCDS team earning the highest number of points of any other competing team.
    Blue Tide is looking forward to next year’s FIRST Robotics Challenge on the first PCDS Upper School Robotics team.  They wish to thank Headmaster Geoff Campbell for his strong support, without which none of this would have been possible.  The team also wishes to thank Liz Olson, Andy Surber, Jenny Treadway, Jenny Cherilla and Joan Risley for their help and support, as well as athletic director Bob Kosower for allowing us to use the PCDS pool. The robotics club at PCDS was formed after a presentation to the students by Fredi Lajvardi, a teacher and the robotics coach at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix.
Final thanks go to our team sponsors, industry advisors and parents for all of their support.
Submitted by Ilene Aube

 

 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

 

By Paula Rhoden, The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Underwater Robotics Research Team has set the bar high.

In its first competition, and first year of existence, the Flying Goldfish brought home the first-place trophy for college level at the second annual National Underwater Robotics Challenge at Chandler High School on June 6-8.

The team also received a special judges award for its unique design.

 

René Valenzuela, Cory Ravetto and Eduardo Moreno formed the Underwater Robotics Research Team to explore a different field of study - hydrodynamics.

The young men built an underwater remote-controlled robot capable of retrieving items from the sea floor. Its circular shape and dome was a contrast to the box shapes of most of the other entries. The team mounted a camera in the dome that provided a 360-degree view.

Valenzuela said a 30-minute pool competition was just one part of the scoring. Judges also looked at the team's technical report, oral presentation,

video submission and website.

The true test came when it was time to put their robot in the water. Its round shape and running lights caused quite a stir.

The organizers based the underwater mission scenario on the book "The Hot Zone" and the movie "Outbreak."

The mission required competitors to recover submerged objects, take measurements, and decode underwater acoustic signals in order to stop the advance of an ebola epidemic.

Each team's pilot navigated their robot through a military airplane crash off the coast of
Senegal
. The robots would try to recover vials of serum, the transport's flight recorder and the Personal Data Assistant of a world-renowned researcher containing valuable scientific data to prevent a worldwide pandemic.

Valenzuela said the team experienced a few problems.

"A couple of our magnets fell off. We had glued them on with superglue, but when the robot went into the chlorinated pool water, they came off. Also, our lights were in a fixed position and reflected back into the dome," he said.

Moreno piloted the robot. He said he could have used more practice.

"The pilot can only see what the camera picks up and shows on a television,"
Moreno
said.

While Valenzuela and Ravetto could watch the action from the side of the pool, they could not communicate with Moreno during the competition.

"More time for preparation is definitely necessary, as is practice piloting the robot in the water," Valenzuela said.

Moreno said they hope their success will encourage other ERAU students to join the club. He said that since the competition is open to high school students, they hope to make contact with local students and create an interest in underwater robotics.

Contact the reporter at
prhoden@prescottaz.com

 

 

Robotics teams meet the challenge

by Ray Parker - Jun. 10, 2008 06:38 AM
The Arizona Republic

 

 

Phoenix Country Day School students won the second National Underwater Robotics Challenge, which took place this past weekend at Chandler High School.

There were double the number of teams competing this year with 21 from Arizona and California, representing students from elementary schools to college and professional teams.

The Phoenix Country Day School Blue Tide team won first place in two categories: pre-high school and overall winner.

A cumulative score from different categories, which included a technical report, oral presentation, mission score, video and Web site submissions, decided the overall winner.

Members of the winning team are Amy Aube (lives in Northeast Phoenix), Kevin Heath (Ahwatukee), James Hobin (Anthem), Kyle Jackson (Paradise Valley), Rohit Kothur (Paradise Valley), Ben Mattinson (Paradise Valley), Frances Rucker (Paradise Valley), Joe Schornak (Northeast Phoenix) and Avery Silverman (Paradise Valley).

The team mentors are Mark Schornak, Joan Silverman, Kevin Jackson, Patrick Heath and Rob Mattinson. Dennis Kohlman and Peter Wettenstein contributed industry advice.

This year's scenario for the competition was based on the book The Hot Zone and the movie Outbreak. Each team used a remote-controlled vehicle, or ROV, to recover a vial of serum necessary to stop an Ebola outbreak inside a submerged plane.

In addition, teams recovered the airplane's flight recorder and a Palm Pilot of a researcher with valuable scientific data, among other tasks.

The event was held during the night, and throughout the early morning, to simulate deep-sea lighting conditions.

Other first-place winners:


•  High-school category: Site 3 Engineering of Jesuit High School in California.


•  College level: Flying Goldfish from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.


•  Club/professional category: Falcon Alumni team.


•  Judge's award for unique design: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The Arizona Promoters of Applied Science in Education, a grassroots, non-profit group, organized the event to bring scientific events to students beyond the classroom.

Information: h2orobots.org and apaseplace.org.

 

 

Member Blog: TeacherMan30 Blog

Local School National Champs!

I knew this would happen someday.  i didn't think it would happen so soon.
The school that beat everyone (Universities, high schools, elementary schools and one team of engineers) in the National Underwater Robot Challenge is Phoenix Country Day School, a middle school team.  Amazing kids.  They made quit a splash in the robot community this weekend.

 

Embry Riddle's entry resembled a UFO!
You can see the mission set up and a speeded up
video of the Carl Hayden team.  ( Interesting that this video was coppied from the live webcast, editied and posted in Europe) The Carl Hayden Falcon team's score was not eligible for consideration since they are the main designers and builders of the competition. Besides, they win enough of these kinds engineering competitions!

The team Blue Tide, a group of junior high students from Phoenix Country Day School in Phoenix, Arizona, was the top winner of the 2nd annual National Underwater Robotics Challenge that took place at Chandler High School, located in Chandler, Arizona, on June 6, 7 and 8, 2008.

The event was open to students from elementary schools to college and professional teams. The underwater mission scenario was complex and exciting. In total, 21 teams from Arizona and California participated in the event.

The first place winner in the pre-high school category was Blue Tide of Phoenix Country Day School. The first place winner in the high school category was Site 3 Engineering of Jesuit High School in California.  First place in the college level competition was Flying Goldfish from Embry Riddle University in Prescott, Arizona.  The winner of the club/professional category was team Falcon Alumni.

The overall winner, Blue Tide of Phoenix Country Day School was decided by a cumulative score from different categories of judging which included a technical report, oral presentation, mission score, video submission and website submission. The overall winner of the event for the 2008 NURC competition EBOLA OUTBREAK was Blue Tide from Phoenix Country Day School. 

A special judge’s award was given to Embry Riddle University for unique design.

All the scores and awards are here.

The National Underwater Robotics Challenge was web-cast live and was also followed play by play by an audience gathered at the Chandler High Auditorium and five "overflow" rooms. The robots built for the challenge had video and lighting capabilities.

This Challenge took place amid the backdrop of an exciting scenario based on the book “The Hot Zone” and the movie “Outbreak“. The mission for the competition consisted of recovering submerged objects, taking measurements, and decoding underwater acoustic signals in order to stop the advance of an Ebola epidemic. Robots were navigated through a military airplane crash site off the coast of Senegal. The participants’ robots would try to recover vials of serum, the transport's flight recorder, and the PDA of a world renowned researcher containing valuable scientific data needed to prevent the advance of a world wide pandemic.

The teams piloted their ROV (Remote Operated Vehicles) robots during the night in order to simulate deep sea lighting conditions.

The event also had the generous support of Honeywell Home Town Solutions, AARP, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Chandler High School, The Outback Steak House, Channel 99, ASU Applied Learning Technologies Institute (Alt^I), SEAD, Lights, Camera, Action, Si Se Puede Foundation, among others.

More videos, pictures and such will be posted on the www.h2oRobots.org website over the next few days.

 

 

Chandler High dives into underwater robotics

by Ray Parker - Jun. 5, 2008 01:28 PM
The Arizona Republic

The mission involves recovering submerged objects from a downed airplane, items needed to stop a deadly epidemic.

That's the scenario this weekend at Chandler High School, where there will be double the number of players for the second National Underwater Robotics Challenge.

In addition to Arizona teams from Chandler, Tempe and Gilbert, others are coming from Texas, Oregon and California. There are categories for grade school, high school and college students.

Sam Alexander, a Chandler computer teacher and robotics coach, said it's all about getting students interested in science and engineering.

"We've got to spark that interest in kids for science and engineering if we're going to compete in the world," Alexander said. "It seems to be working because we've got a lot more teams this year."

In the game scenario, each team will use a remote-controlled vehicle, or ROV, to recover a vial of serum necessary to stop an Ebola outbreak. In addition, teams will need to recover the airplane's flight recorder and a Palm Pilot of a researcher with valuable scientific data.

The competition will be held overnight Saturday and into early morning Sunday at the school's pool to simulate deep-sea lighting conditions.

The competition resulted from several groups coming together so students could beef up on their science and technical skills.

"We're taking kids who otherwise would not be interested in science or any type of club, but they enjoy robotics," said Alberto Esparza, who founded the non-profit Si Se Puede Foundation, which has helped more than 1,900 Chandler students since 1992 and has grade school level teams in the competition.

The scenario for the competition is based on the book The Hot Zone and the movie Outbreak.

"We're creating multiple hooks for the students," said Faridodin "Fredi" Lajvardi, a Carl Hayden High science teacher who developed the competition. "A lot of students are booked to death and this gives them some fun, and maybe some of them can't do well in class but can do well using their hands, plus we've got girls and guys and different ages working together."

Students Enrique Canedo, 13, (left) and Ezori Merrill, 10, submerge their underwater robot while testing in the Chandler High School swimming pool Wednesday. The National Underwater Robotics Challenge 2008 will be held at the school.

 

More on this topic

Underwater robotics challenge

Where: Chandler High School Aquatic Center, 350 N. Arizona Ave.

When: The community is invited to watch the competition, which starts at 8 p.m. Saturday and continues until 4 a.m. Sunday.

Watch: The challenge also can be viewed on a live video stream. The video will come from the teams' remotely controlled vehicles and underwater cameras. It will be broadcast to a gallery and posted online at www.h2orobots.org.

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