Amador alumnus rises to RoboSub semifinals in San Diego

Long-running robotics event put autonomous underwater vehicles through a gauntlet of challenges

Spending all summer in a pool doesn’t sound like hard work but a Pleasanton native who helped design, build and program an underwater robot for a recent robotics competition proved otherwise.

As part of the MuddSub robotics team at Harvey Mudd College in Southern California, Amador Valley High alumnus Daniel Yang advanced along with his five teammates to the 21st annual RoboNation RoboSub semifinals early last month in San Diego. MuddSub showed off their autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) named Alfie, which went up against similar vehicles from teams representing 14 countries and several U.S. states. It was the first time the college had an entry in the long-running event.

Over the past year, MuddSub put Alfie together with the plan to compete; the competition took place at Transdec, a 38-foot deep, six-million gallon naval testing pool, with the help of Navy divers. The team put Alfie through a number of exercises that tested Alfie’s autonomy and ability to submerge, identify obstacles and navigate through gates over the course of six days.

A wildcard slot on the last day wasn’t enough to qualify MuddSub for finals, “but it meant the robot accomplished all it reasonably could have,” said team captain Seth Isaacson.

MuddSub finished in 16th place among a total of 59 entries in the competition. They also received the highest score in the technical paper written style category.

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