Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Trip Conclusion

Our week in Malta has drawn to a close, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Between footage gathered by the Finnish divers Emmi and Kari, and the test GoPro footage we acquired ourselves, there is around 400GB of data to look at. Over the next few weeks we'll produce some Agisoft models from that data. In the meantime, here's a different sort of visualization. The helpful crew of the U Boat Navigator gave us some data from their multibeam echosounder - below you can see a sweep of the HMS Stubborn visualized in software developed as part of this trip.

And here are some photos from the second half of our trip:

Heading out to the U Boat Navigator for our second deployment day.
Driving the AUV once again.
The chapel at Mdina.
Malta at night.
Our group, in Valetta.
Final meeting with the Finnish divers, Timmy, and other colleagues at the University of Malta.
The last view of Malta island as we flew out earlier Sunday morning.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A few pictures while I wait in the Airport

I am currently waiting in the LAX airport on my way back to Cupertino so I figured I'd share a few pictures from the second half of our trip.

Gzira harbor as I walked to help Api and Chris test the AUV from the shore Thursday morning.

Chris and Api working on ballasting the AUV in the Sliema harbor.

Ian and Api taking pictures of the beautiful view from the walls of Mdina on our cultural trip Thursday night.

The whole group in Mdina, a beautiful city with a rich history.  

 The AUV Friday morning as we waited to board the Russian vessel.

The view from Valletta's Saluting Battery on our last night in Malta.

The group minus Zoë in Valletta.

View from the Valletta to Silema ferry.

Ian and I headed home early Sunday morning. 

I am working on creating a mesh from the Russian boat’s sonar data using point cloud library, an open source tool, while Ian processes the video data and uses photogrammetry to create 3D models. We will post our results soon!

I had an amazing time in Malta and learned so much. We did not collect as much of our own shipwreck data as we would have liked to but we learned tons of information that will be valuable for future ICEX trips. I would have loved to stay longer but am excited to be back to my friends and family. Thank you to Zoë, Chris, Timmy, the Finnish divers, the Russian sailors, and everyone else who made this trip possible!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Having gotten the AUV to dive successfully at the test site yesterday, we were excited to return to the site of the wreck of the HMS Stubborn submarine today. We again got on the research vessel "U Boat Navigator" to spend a day out above the wreck.
The U Boat Navigator was again our workspace for the day.

Mounting the sonar on the AUV to prepare for missions.

Before running a mission to collect data on the wreck, we first tested deeper dives of depths around 8 meters. Unfortunately, we quickly saw that the AUV had trouble staying under the water and completing its dives at the depths we wanted. Throughout most of the morning and afternoon, we tried to figure out why this was.

Chris swimming after the diving robot to observe its behavior.

Meanwhile, Zoe and Ian worked on processing multibeam sonar data gathered by the research vessel.

After a long day of searching for the cause of the diving problems, we finally found it. The altimeter on the AUV often received incorrect, very low measurements. This would confuse the AUV into thinking it was about the crash into the seafloor and immediately abort the dive to avoid the crash. We turned off this crash avoidance setting and redeployed the AUV, and it finally dove as desired!

It was late in the day and we didn't have too much power left in the batteries but we were able to send the AUV on a couple lawnmower pattern missions above the wreck at a depth of 20-30m. We still have to process the sonar data from these missions but initial previews suggest we did get an (admittedly noisy) image of the submarine!

Enjoying the top deck of the boat while waiting for the AUV to complete its autonomous data collection.
A plot of the AUV's trajectory, going from blue toward red.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Video of successful IVER dive at the test site

Test deployments in the harbor were successful this morning. After calibrating the compass, adding our large control surfaces to the AUV, and rebalasting, Api and Katie successfully deployed the AUV for several missions.

Api is shown here deploying the AUV at our test site. It is difficult to see the AUV in the water. The city of Valetta can be seen in the background.

Some pictures from our first few days in Malta

Waiting for the taxi to our first deployment, outside our apartment
Mission planning for the IVER
Chris and Api testing the buoyancy of the IVER
On the top deck of the research vessel
Api and Katie driving the IVER into position
Testing IVER diving
Watching the IVER navigate autonomously

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Day 2 - first day on the water

We spent today on a boat working with the AUV and ROV getting them up and running and working on some kinks in the hardware.  We learned a ton about the working environment, challenges and beauty of the ocean here.  We very much appreciate the amazing hosting we had on board (thank you to our amazing Russian hosts!) We will post more about our technical work soon, but here are some images of the working environment and hard working team.
We spent the day on the boat visible in the background - very lovely!
The view looking back toward Malta from St. Paul's bay.

Api working on setting up the IVER.

Chris and Api keeping an eye on the IVER as it executes a test mission.

Chris and Api debugging the IVER tail.

The tiny videoray compared to our host's ROV

Katie deploying the ROV

off it goes!
Ian and Katie looking happy that the little video ray made it down to over 48 meters to reach the sea floor with great visibility.

Enjoying our beautiful work environment!