A large, well-organized team from Cornell University sank the competition at AUVSI and the Office of Naval Research's 12th annual Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition, returning the school to the top spot, which it hasn't held since 2003, and earning it $10,000.
Team leader Erin Fischell said preparation was the key--the team's vehicle, Nova, has been in the water of Cornell's pool every day since 9 May, and the autonomous sub is also being used for environmental surveys on Cayuga Lake.
"If you want to run a vehicle off the back of a boat, it has to be tight, it has to be reliable," she said.
Nova proved to be both at the competition, which called for entries to pass through a gate, follow a path, "light a flare" (hit a buoy), take out a mock machine gun nest with small torpedoes, perform a "bombing run" over simulated targets, recover secret documents in a briefcase and surface through an octagon shape.
The competition is sponsored by AUVSI and the Office of Naval Research and takes place in a large acoustic testing pool operated by the Navy SPAWAR Systems Center.
Cornell has 30-person team, 10 of whom were on hand, but smaller teams did well, too. The three-person team from Canada's University of Victoria took second place and a check for $4,000.
The University of Rhode Island team, which earlier took second place in AUVSI's Autonomous Surface Vehicle Competition, took third place and a check for $3,000.