The team’s 1st prototype, Seagull was designed and fabricated with the primary intent of testing all of the electronics, control and vision based navigation algorithms. It served as a proof of concept for the catamaran design which consists of two hulls joined at the helm with the help of a super structure. The material used for the fabrication of the hulls included a space frame structure using aluminium struts and high density polyurethane foam. The high density polyurethane foam provides positive buoyancy to the boat while the aluminium frame provides it structural stability. The Battery pack consisted of two high discharge lithium polymer batteries which provided ample power for long term operation.
The propulsion was provided by using two thrusters manufactured in house using off the shelf components like DC motors, PVC tubes, propellers, silicon sealant and quick drying adhesive. The coupler between the motor and propeller was custom made on a CNC machine using nylon material. The payload on the prototype comprised of a camera and digital compass to provide sensory data for the autonomous functioning of the boat. The video stream captured using the camera was used for blob detection and distance measurement between the buoys in order to localise itself to the aid the navigation process. The digital compass was used to provide a fixed heading to achieve a smoother and more reliable navigation algorithm.
The complete operation of Seagull enabled the team to understand the fundamentals required to effectively design control and vision based algorithms, while also giving insights on the optimisation of the hull structure.