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We are a club of electronics students and mechanical technicians dedicated to an annual event put on by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Office of Naval Research — The RoboSub Competition, and our ongoing entry is an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) known as the Kraken.
This vehicle, in order to be a part of this event, must be able to follow a predefined course and complete a series of tasks that varies from year to year. In years past the Kraken has been required to drive through an underwater gate. Follow a colored stripe at the bottom of the testing pool. Follow a sonar signal to a given location. Descend and pick up an object. Turn a handle and move a lever. And so on...
This club has existed at San Diego City College for several years and the results, while not spectacular have been promising. Successive classes of students have sharpened their skills as programmers, electricians and technicians in their attempt to make the Kraken the best AUV at the competition. The lessons learned over the years have been that compatibility both backwards and forwards and modularity are key concepts to success. The various components must be both replaceable and upgradeable, as well as reliable and rugged.
The Kraken is a low-cost, reliable, and adaptable platform for use in demanding underwater environments. The main strengths of the robot are its commercial off-the-shelf design, its minimal thermal and power demands, and its modularity. The focus this year was to take the chassis developed previously and improve its reliability. The 2011- 2012 San Diego City College (SDCC) robotics team implemented a new propulsion system, improved the vision subsystem's reliability and added a fully passive SONAR system. Changes made by the SDCC team will significantly improve the functionality of the Kraken. In 2013-14 we further improved modularity by providing a unified power bus to allow removal of any or all components as needed. And we are entertaining a move away from the waterproof plastic boxes to other designs and materials. Further we have developed a team for testing and reliability, so that no matter what the final product, it will most certainly perform.
The Kraken was designed with the weaknesses and strengths of the SDCC robotics team in mind. Without having the continuity for that team and a uniform resource pool that a four year school provides, the Kraken was designed to be modular and easy to modify - allowing future teams to improve and modify without changing the entire robot. All of the systems and components are designed to be drop-in so all components are quickly replaceable. Kraken allows each year's team to modify the AUV without the financial and engineering burden of an entirely new design.