Congratulations to UF’s NaviGator AMS team, winner of the 2016 Maritime RobotX Challenge ( in Hawaii. See and for more info.

UF’s Team NaviGator AMS, winner of the 2016 Maritime RobotX Challenge in Oahu, Hawaii

Magnetometer deflection testing

Today we tested a new brushless motor on our test bench.  We were concerned with how the motor will affect our magnetometer.  Using a tape measure, we placed the sensor at 1 foot increments to measure how much deflection the motor caused.  While the motor caused a significant disturbance at close distances, we found that at 3 feet the deflection was tolerable (see graph below).  When we placed a sheet of Mu-metal between the motor and sensor at 3 feet, the deflection became negligible.  At dista
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Drag test of prototype

After taking the prototype to the lake several times, we determined that we needed a better way to test how much drag the hull and motors were creating.  Jackson created a rig that we could drag the prototype off the side of a fishing boat.  A load cell was placed in between the model and the rig to measure the drag on the prototype hull.  After pulling different configurations of the model we examined the data.  The actual data confirmed our models and simulations proving that the trolling moto
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High speed run

After reducing the weight of the boat by using small batteries and replacing the electronics box with a cardboard box, we were able to get the boat up to a higher speed.  With the lighter configuration, we were able to reach 7 knots.  Our drag simulations showed that our low weight model would never be able to go faster than 5.5 knots.  The 7 knots proved that the hyrdofoils were working by reducing the resistance of the boat through the water through lift.
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We have autonomous lift off!!!

Today we finally had a successful fully autonomous takeoff and landing of a Flamewheel quadcopter.  The quad first took off from the boat, identified the landing zone visually, and landed on the pad.  Next, the quad launched from the pad maneuvered over the boat, visually identified the landing pad on the boat, and landed.  Next step is to try the autonomous landing when the boat is in the water. 2013 ASME journal paper on quadcopter (Josh Weaver): UAV Performing Autonomous Landing on USV Utiliz
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Harn Museum Night 2013 Boat Show

Last night we brought the boat to the Harn Museum here at UF.  The boat was situated near the entrance so thousands of people got to see what we’ve created in the lab.  The Nerf gun go the attention of the kids.  Many people were impressed with Dan’s talking boat module.  It really gave PropaGator some personality.  The sub also came to the event and set up right next to us.  I feel like our two projects were the most popular that night.
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First in water testing of the prototype

Today we placed the wooden prototype in the water for the first time.  We were able to drive the boat by remote for about 20 minutes before the motor controllers failed.  The results were not what we expected with the boat’s top speed being only about 4 kts.  The testing didn’t go as well as we hoped but we still learned a great deal. The first problem we faced was the boat’s weight.  Because we were using car batteries to power the boat, the boat sat very low in the water.  Th
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UF President visits MIL

Today the President of UF visited the Machine Intelligence Lab (MIL).  Dr. Schwartz gave the president a tour of our lab and introduced team members from both SubjuGator, PropaGator, and Congregators.  This was the first time the president of UF has visited the lab.
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Sweet and sour at the pool today

Forrest and I spent about 1.5 hours trouble shooting the boat last night.  The boat would turn on but for some reason the computer was unable to boot (fans on, lights blinking on motherboard).  We swapped out the original computer power supply with sub 6’s power supply and everything worked.  We insulated the power supply and called it a night.  This morning we had the same issue with sub 6’s power supply.  After another hour troubleshooting at the pool, we discovered a damaged wire 
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Construction of the Prototype hull begins

This year, we have decided to build our own hull.  A new hull would provide a lighter, smaller platform customized for our systems.  The new platform was designed and simulated using computer software.  However, before construction begins on the final boat hull, we wanted to prove the new design worked. The best way to test a boat design is to build it!  Using a subtractive rapid prototyping (SRP) machine, we cut out the bottom of the hulls and the hydrofoils.  Building upon the machined pieces,
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