Team Bath Drones Marine (TBDM) is the University of Bath’s newest student competition team, based in the Faculty of Engineering and Design. Made up of students from the Departments of Mechanical and Electrical & Electronic Engineering, TBDM has just returned from competing for the first time at the ERL Emergency Robotics Challenge.
The competition was hosted at the NATO Centre for Research and Experimentation in La Spezia, Italy and challenged teams to demonstrate their drone’s capability to carry out untethered and completely autonomous missions both on land and underwater.
The Bath students were the sole UK representatives and competed against a number of other international teams from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Poland.
Each of the missions related to an emergency-response theme – such as a nuclear disaster - and some missions required collaboration between drones in different domains, for example detecting a leaking underwater pipeline and closing the appropriate valve on land. Points were awarded for goals completed successfully and the team with the highest score at the end was the winner.
In their first year of competing, TBDM didn't manage to place but received the "Best Rookie" award for the best new team, with a prize of two free student entries to the International Interdisciplinary Field Workshop for Marine Robotics and Applications in Croatia, 2018.
The TBDM underwater robot has been developed over several years - beginning from a group design and business project, followed by implementation within a number of final year projects, and then many more hours of extracurricular effort.
Academic Lead and lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Alan Hunter, commented:
Participating in the ERL Emergency Robotics Challenge has been a huge step forward for TBDM and an excellent learning experience for the students. The bar has been set for next year's team.
We are extremely grateful to the support we have received, especially the funding provided by the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Bath Alumni fund, as well as in-kind support from Blueprint Subsea and the University of Bath Sports Training Village. Lastly, we wouldn’t have been able to get and stay there without the support of ERL who generously funded our travel and accommodation.
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, Professor Gary Hawley, added:
Another fantastic addition to our student competition teams. To participate and be recognised at the first competition is an outstanding achievement and augurs well for the future.