«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!)


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