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Our Achievements so far.

«Done and done!» | Leonie Traffelet | 20 July 2016

I admit it. I put it off to write this blog post. I put it off because I knew it would be the last one. So here we go with the last blog post of the focus project „Submersible Robot for Underwater Scanning“ – Scubo.

The Roll-out was a full success from our point of view. The presentation was well received and countless people visited our both in the main hall afterwards. It was a pleasure to answer their questions and see their interest in our little robot, on which we worked so many days and nights.




Of course our work wasn’t done after the Roll-out. With the final presentation, the prototype evaluation and the final report we still had two quite intense weeks after the big day. And of course we had to finish our bachelor theses (which, to be honest, were a little neglected during the semester due to Scubo..)!

By now, we are almost all done with our thesis and therefore with our bachelor in mechanical or electrical engineering at ETH Zürich! And the entire team is soon to be scattered literally all over the world. Canada, China, India, USA to only name a few places were some of us will spend part of the coming year studying or working.


Although our team will not be working together on Scubo next semester, Scubo will not gather dust in a basement at ETH. We have already found some companies who would like to use Scubo for their applications.. But we don’t want to reveal more just yet ;) So there is a good chance we will be working on Scubo during our master studies.


So.. But the focus project has officially ended by now. And I am not going to lie, I am quite happy it did. No offense, but I like to sleep more than 5h a night. And I like to have some free time. And I like to spend my weekends somewhere else than in the LEO building at ETH Zürich. But if I am even more honest, I am sad it is all over. All in all, it was such an awesome year! We built a kick-ass submersible robot based on our initial ideas. It was definitely hard at times, but it was worth it without a doubt and I’d do it all over again if I had the chance. However, it needs to be mentioned that all the people involved with this project are responsible for the great outcome of the prototype as well as the experience in general. We had wonderful coaches, who not only supported and helped us; they inspired us and provided a working environment that made it possible for us to learn more than we hoped to during these past two semesters. A big thank you goes out to Professor Siegwart and his entire lab, the Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zürich as well as Paul Beardsley and the Disney Research Lab Zurich. They initialized the project and picked the team of students, which we were lucky to be a part of. Further, Disney Research provided us with an initial sponsoring, which was especially important in the early stages of the focus project.

And last but not least, personally I want to say thank you to Ilyas, Reto, Yvain, Johann, Thomas, Remo, Marc, and Timo. A year ago I saw these names on a list not knowing most of you but knowing I had to build a submersible robot with you. And by now I can honestly say, I am glad each and every one of you was on this list. It was a pleasure to be part of such a hard working, reliable and remarkably intelligent team. I hope to work with you again at some point in the future.


But this is not a goodbye, I am sure great things are yet to come – Scubo has just begun diving.

«10 days to go!» | Leonie Traffelet | 21 May 2016

10 days says the calendar on our office wall. 10 days until the roll out. 10 days until we can finally present Scubo to a broad audience at the focus Roll-out. Back in June when we first met the team members we would spent countless hours with, the 31st of May seemed an eternity away – now it’s only 10 days…


Although Scubo works almost perfectly, we still got some work to do. Besides preparing the big presentation we have to make some final adjustments to the electronics and the software. And of course we want to make Scubo look his best when he’s standing in the historical main hall of ETH Zürich in 10 days.


Speaking of nice looking things, take a look at this delightful picture of Scubo below the “Römerbrücke” in the Verzasca River (Tessin CH). On Thursday we went there to test Scubo in running waters and to get some footage for our Roll-out trailer. It was such a beautiful day, and without a doubt we were the main attraction there - countless people took pictures and whispered to each other assumptions about our doings.


It is safe to say that the entire day was a success: Scubo worked, we got to spend a weekday at a beautiful river and of course (since we were in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland) we ended the day with a delicious pizza at a nearby restaurant - an engineer's dream :)


Since the roll out is in 10 days I should actually go 3D-print the new light-supports, rewire some cables or start practicing the presentation..


We hope to see you at the roll-out presentation or at the exhibition in the main hall. There we will be happy to answer any questions about Scubo - we all could talk endlessly about Scubo’s awesomeness (which our families and friends would most likely confirm)! See you there, and stay tuned for more news after the Roll-out, we might have some big ones...

«Water Fun!» | Leonie Traffelet | 21 April 2016

It’s been a while. For this we have a very simple reason - the last couple of weeks were crazy packed!

Since our last entry almost two months ago we got all of our parts and we successfully assembled Scubo! In case you haven’t seen our assembly video, you can find it below - I highly recommend you check it out. Then we tested if Scubo is indeed watertight to a depth of 20m. We did this here at ETH in the autoclave, where we were able to safely test Scubo without any actual contact to water. After replacing some O-rings and plugs as well as retightening some screws, Scubo was tight to the targeted pressure difference of 2 bars within roughly one week.

After that we were able to build in almost all electrical parts, and with this, Scubo was finally ready for his very first dive after more than 7 months of hard work.

The first test dive was rather chaotic. The final adjustments took waaaay longer than we all expected and instead of at 8:00 PM, we were at the pool at 2:00 AM (!). But better late than never, right? The goal was mainly to check if the robot is really watertight and to check his buoyancy. Another result was this picture of our beautiful robot:


Last saturday we went for the second test, and we got better: not quite 8:00 PM but at least we made it to the pool at around 11:00 PM. But let me tell you, almost everything else was a disaster. Basically nothing worked and after 4h of desperate attempts to make Scubo move, we left without Scubo even touching the water. It was a rough night to say the least. And our team chat was filled with text according to this. Here is an excerpt of a long motivational text by Ilyas: “IF IT WAS EASY, EVERYBODY WOULD DO IT!”. And of course he is right. Our goal to build an omnidirectional, small, agile, modular, kick-ass submersible robot that satisfies ETH Zürich and Disney Research is far from easy. But we didn’t sign up for “easy” this past June, we signed up for “hard work”, “endurance” and “little sleep” (as we discovered now...).

So we got our shit together and went right back to work on Monday, to get Scubo back on track with the goal to test him on Wednesday (the other day besides Saturday we can use the pool). So I am super excited to tell you that yesterday was truly, TRULY a full success! Not only were we 10min earlier at the pool than intended, but everything worked! And it didn’t just “work” - the buoyancy was pretty much perfectly neutral, the thruster control didn’t make the slightest problems (opposite the last time..), the electronics got their job done and the manual steering… Let me tell you about the manual steering - the steering with the 3D space mouse from 3DConnexion was so much easier and smoother than we had expected. And Scubo can roll, he can ROLL! We were very sceptical that he will be able to roll but he can rotate about any of the three main axis effortlessly!

We were all very happy and still are. Although this was a big success we won’t lay back now, there’s still a lot to do. Now that the manual steering works, we can make it even better by implementing a controller for additional stability. Then we can get startet to implement the trajectory control and the vision software. The telepresence application needs to be implemented as well, since on May 31st at the Roll-out we want to let people experience it first hand.

You see - great things are yet to come. So stay tuned for more news and for the first video of Scubo operating under water! I promise you, it’s pretty awesome! (Edit: by now we've uploaded the video which you can find here, and it is in deed very awesome!)


«We are back!» | Leonie Traffelet | 27 February 2016

We are back from the winter break and are proud to say all of us have successfully passed the exams! This means with the beginning of last week we have started our last semester of our bachelor studies.

This semester will be entirely dedicated to Scubo, we will have no lectures or exercises - just the focusproject and our bachelor theses (which are all about our kick-ass robot). But there are only 14 weeks left until the focus roll-out on May 31st! And there is still a LOT to do! Of course we didn’t lose any time and got started right away on Monday: a time plan was made to make sure nothing will be forgotten, we’ve been working on our intermediate report, everyone got started with programing, last small orders have been made and many many phone calls with our partners were made to name only a very few things we got done this past week.

On Monday we will pick up some of the manufactured parts at Libs and bring them to Alumex AG where the parts will be eloxadized - we’ll make sure to take some pictures for you guys! Other parts have already arrived while we took our exams. Below you see a picture of the front and rear bumpers that our water jet cutting partner Qualicut manufactured for us.


We are eager to start the assembling as soon as all of the components are finally here. Meanwhile we are getting started in programing. Our software team is already working hard on the thruster control and on connecting all of the electronical parts neatly together to make sure we can get our testing phase started as soon as Scubo is assembled.

Stay tuned for more news!

«Design Frozen!» | Leonie Traffelet | 18 December 2015

With the end of the first semester and therefore almost half of our project we want to kick off our blog. Here you can get an insight on our daily work with all its ups and downs (but hopefully more ups than downs).

After countless night shifts, liters of coffee and tea, a few batches of flipchart paper and a lot of teamwork we have successfully frozen our design and are about to send the technical drawings to our manufacturing partners Libs (which will produce all of our aluminum parts) and Carbomill (which will produce our high end carbon fiber box). The electronical parts will be ordered in the next few days as well. But of course we won’t just sit around and wait until our components are delivered. We will use the time to get started with the software, write our intermediate report and - of course - study for our exams in february.

After some discussions in our team and with our coaches we have decided on our bachelor thesis topics. Most of us will work on a software problem since Scubo is the ideal platform to solve our first robotics programming problem - the topics vary from 3D reconstruction over localisation to control and a lot more. We are sure there is a lot to learn and are eager to start on our individual problems as well as keep working together to make Scubo the innovative submersible we all want to build.

We are all highly motivated for the next semester and can’t wait until our robot is assembled and the testing phase can begin. Merry christmas and a happy new year from all of us!