This summer, ten students worked hard to further develop the Aegir autonomous personal watercraft.
The project is called Coastal Shark, and it has been operated under the auspices of Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace AS since 2015.
Every summer, I am equally impressed with what the students achieve, says Alexander Gosling, owner of Coastal Shark.
This year’s summer project ended this week with a demonstration at Lake Eikeren, where even the mayor of Kongsberg was present.
lidar and radar
The long-term goal of the Coastal Shark project is for the Aegir to become a fully autonomous ship. The Aegir was originally a See Doo SPARK-3 jet ski, which was converted in 2015 into an unmanned surface vessel (USV) by the project’s early summer students.
Since then, new summer students each year have contributed to the long-term goal by gradually giving Aegir more jobs.
This year’s goal was for the USV to be able to detect, classify, and follow an object in the sea as it moves. Therefore, they used LiDAR as a description, among other things.
– Both LiDAR and the radar have already been installed by former summer students, but the data they collected have not been combined. This year, we’ve pooled data from these two technologies together, says Eric Medton, student technology and project manager for this year’s Coastal Shark project.
Both components are necessary to be able to detect objects at sea.
– LiDAR can make detailed measurements, but has a range of only 20 meters. For that, we also need the radar, which has a range of 1,000 meters, but it can only make approximate measurements, Medton explains.
He gives orders from the land
After detecting an object, Aegir takes pictures of it using a sensor camera. Aegir then analyzes and classifies these images using machine learning.
From a ground station, students can communicate with Eiger. Via Sea Radio, they can receive photos and video, as well as give orders and missions to the USV.
– From the ground station we can give orders to Eger. This year, Medton says, we’ve focused on being able to follow a ship he’s discovered and cataloged.
In addition to the functionality developed by this year’s summer students, the Aegir can drive autonomously between two points, either by driving a predetermined route or finding and planning the route itself. It will also avoid the Aegir and stop in front of the obstacles encountered in the sea.
One of the objectives of the summer project is to inspire and motivate students by showing how their education can be used in practice. Therefore, students have great freedom to solve the tasks as they think best, Gosling says.
At the beginning of the summer, students receive a budget and some general objectives for the further development of Aegir. Beyond that, they must decide for themselves which technology and solution to use.
This freedom to solve the task as they please is one of what the team believes is the most exciting.
We decided for ourselves how we could split the team, delegate tasks, use the budget, and continue developing Eiger City, says Midton.
It’s a broad-based task that caters to students, and to be able to solve it it’s important to have a multidisciplinary team on the team, Gosling says.
Therefore the team is made up of students with different technological backgrounds. Computer and Cybernetics students focus on software and machine learning, while Machine and Electrical students are responsible for the practical and physical development of the scooter.
Each year, the Kongsberg group accepts more than 100 students. A total of ten students participated in this year’s Coastal Shark project, which is one of a total of six projects of the summer.
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