Week 2 – Initial Thoughts & Ideas

Deciding on the project

We were given two project statements to choose from for our main project, as detailed below:

  1. Can we design a vehicle that can sample and will be able to take two samples, one at 1 meter and second at 2 meters underwater?
  2. Can we design a system that can submerge and take measurements of temperature at 2 meters underwater and log it so that when the vehicle is at the surface, it is able to send the data to a ground station?

Once we fully understood what each project would entail, we unanimously decided to choose the 2nd project statement. By breaking down the workflow of each of the two projects, we were able to compare and contrast the 2 projects and select the more interesting one to work on.

Project 1 Project 2
  • Vehicle submerges
  • Travels to a depth of 1 metre
  • Records several temperature readings, then extrapolates and average from it
  • Travels to a depth of 2 metres
  • Records several temperature readings, then extrapolates and average from it
  • Resurfaces
  • Vehicle submerges
  • Travels to a depth of 1 metre
  • A container/capsule opens and water flows in, then it closes
  • Travels to a depth of 2 metres
  • Another container/capsule opens and water flows in, then it closes
  • Resurfaces

Based on how we envisioned the vehicles to operate solely based on the project statements, we decided to select Project 2. This is because we felt that Project 1 was much simpler than Project 2 and also any mechanical functions present in Project 1 are present in Project 2 as well, but Project 2 has an extra component whereby the containers need to open and close.

Thus, Project 2, we feel, would pose a very interesting challenge for us and would be far more rewarding to embark on than Project 1.

Initial thoughts

We are very excited and eager to start brainstorming and really putting in deep thought into how our project would work and to foresee any problems which may arise.

Problem Solution
Waterproofing all electronics and mechanical components Using proper materials to seal off the various compartments and to use epoxy.
Manoeuvring the robot around While the robot only needs to move up and down (uniaxial), in reality it exists in a triaxial environment. We may decide to include motors and propellers in various configurations in order for the robot to maintain a constant position.
Modular containers or in-built compartments to collect water samples Having modular containers would mean that decanting the water would be much easier and the containers would be easily replaceable. However, we must ensure that these containers are properly sealed upon securing it onto the robot. Having in-built compartments will make the decanting process much more tedious and hence we will probably stick with constructing modular containers.
Communication with a remote control device This can be done either through Bluetooth or by using an RF (Radio Frequency) transmitter and receiver. More thought will need to be put in as to exactly how this would work.
Submerging and resurfacing of the robot While we are yet to study the fundamentals of buoyancy, we have a rough idea on how this could work based on the working principle behind submarines.

The above table summarises the problems we can foresee and potential solutions we have for the problems. Foresight is paramount to the success of a project as it helps mitigate the number of problems we may face upon actually embarking on the fabrication and detailed planning of the robot. While we may not be able to foresee every single problem, having a large majority of it already thought through works wonders – evident in all of our past projects.

We have lots more research to do and many more things to learn, and we welcome this challenge wholeheartedly. This is merely the first step in what we feel will be a very wonderful journey!

Ajay Pillay

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