Duke Takes Top Prizes in RoboSub Competition

8/31/21 Pratt School of Engineering

Competing virtually for a second year, the Duke Robotics Club won awards for its technical design report, propulsion system and sensor optimization

Duke Takes Top Prizes in RoboSub Competition

Last year, as the annual RoboSub competition pivoted from an in-person event to a virtual showcase, the Duke Robotics Club pivoted along with it, winning fourth place for its journal paper submission. This year, as the competition remained virtual, the club further proved its ability to adapt, execute and deliver results. From a field of 54 teams from 12 different countries, Duke garnered first-place prizes in the technical design report and propulsion system categories and a third-place award for sensor optimization.

Over the past year the club met twice a week, for two hours at a stretch, to improve and refine its autonomous underwater vehicle, Cthulhu v2. After a month of onboarding its newest members, team leads Trevor Fowler ME ’21 and Kara Lindstrom ME ’23 (Mechanical), Muthu Arivoli ECE/CS ’22 and Brandon Bae ECE/CS ’24 (Electrical), and Shaan Gondalia ECE/CS ’23 (Software) drove the head-to-toe improvement process. This included fully redesigning the robot’s frame, upgrading the robot’s acoustics and adding a new bank of sensors, and fine-tuning the robot’s vision, movement and task planning capabilities with upgraded controls.

A Zoom-based Duke Robotics Club took some getting used to, acknowledged Co-Presidents Nick Chakraborty ECE/Physics ’23 and Eric Jiang ECE/CS ’22. “After the in-person competition was canceled again, it was often hard to find the motivation to continue working on the robot,” said Jiang. “It’s a testament to the talent and commitment of each and every one of our members that we were not only able to survive as a club, but also continue our momentum from previous years.”

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