Mahindra Ecole Centrale (MEC) College of engineering, an international technology school that is part of the Mahindra Group, has unveiled the first Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) named Black Pearl. The Black Pearl AUV is a self-propelled, unmanned, untethered underwater vehicle capable of carrying out simple activities with little or no human supervision.
MEC’s Black Pearl has a fully autonomous operation and carries power onboard through a lithium polymer battery. Powered by NVidia Jetson Nano single board computer and Arduino microcontroller, MEC’s Black Pearl is a free-swimming, untethered robot boasting of a Logical 270 vertical camera and Raspberry Pi V2 horizontal camera to take good quality images. Nearly Rs 370,000 were spent in developing the vehicle in-house.
Mahindra claims that the Black Pearl is currently capable of executing instructions that have been hardcoded into it, with high accuracy and with minimal error. Over the span of the next few months it would be made capable of taking inputs from the sensors (Depth, Echosounder, Camera, etc.), process them, and based on the data, navigate its trajectory so that it can avoid obstacles, retrieve objects from the water floor and carry out dedicated missions. Black Pearl is equipped with multiple thrusters, which give it five degrees of freedom-Roll, Yaw, Surge, Heave and Sway, and it would soon have a manipulator/robotic arm so that it can acquire objects. The Jetson Nano and Camera would do the image processing tasks, and employ Neural Networks to help in the task of trajectory planning and optimisation.
These self-guided and self-powered vehicles could have a wide range of applications in marine sciences. Mentored by professors and built indigenously by the students of MEC, the project is an integration of computer science, mechanical, electrical and electronics engineering. Mahindra claims that the AUV is capable of carrying out navigational and other tasks pre-fed into its memory with good precision and near-zero error.
Dr Yajulu Medury, director, Mahindra Ecole Centrale said, “ Black Pearl is another such product where the students and their academic and research mentors worked tirelessly at our Centre for Robotics and created a robust Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. We are very proud to be creating New Engineers who work on complex projects, sharpen their technical and project management skills becoming more competitive, innovative and future-ready.”
Students behind the Black Pearl project - L-R: Suresh Krishna, Nishith Patnaik, Srikanth Gadde, Sai Madhavan
Mahindra has acknowledged the efforts and commitments of Professor Arya Kumar Bhattacharya, Dean R&D, MEC and faculty mentor Dr Sebastian Uppapalli of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Mahindra Ecole Centrale. The team primarily responsible for creating the AUV included Naval Pattar(Fabrication), Nishith(Design), Pulkit(Simulations), Suresh(Control and Embedded Systems), Srikanth Gadde(Control and Embedded Systems), Kartikeya(Vision Systems) while the overall project was led by Sai Madhavan (Team Lead), and Sai Kiran Kumar(Deputy Team Lead).