Robot thief strikes IIT

It’s a classic case of whodunnit. A critical part of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), an underwater robotic machine created by 25 IIT Bombay students, has gone missing from campus since March 21.

The part in question went missing minutes after the students gave a live demonstration of the machine’s capabilities at the IIT campus swimming pool on the evening of March 21. This AUV was the technical institute’s official entry to the prestigious Robosub International Underwater Vehicle Competition to be held at San Diego in July. The matter has been reported in the Institute’s internal newsletter now even though officials are tight-lipped and students told to lie low.

The article that appeared in IIT Bombay’s internal newsletter about the missing part of the AUV machine

According to a student associated with the project, the project was worth around Rs 1.25-1.5 lakh. Even after receiving money from some sponsors, the students had to shell out around Rs 50,000 from their pocket for the project. The internal newsletter report states that, “the project took eight months of intense work by the students, and was made of very expensive parts.”

The report further stated, “The AUV-IITB team, comprising around 25 students from different branches, were in the testing phase for their second vehicle Matsya 2.0. After testing the vehicle at the IIT Bombay swimming pool at around 7.30 pm, the team is unable to trace the entire stack of electronic boards, which form a very critical component of the AUV.”

Giving further details on the missing part, the newsletter says that the students involved in the project have now announced a prize for the person who helps them find the parts. “The stack was in a carton labelled ‘Digi-Key’, approximately one-cubic feet in volume. The AUV team assures a very grand treat to the finder, and solicits your help in spreading the word.”

Another student involved in the project told SMD, “The machine has a sensor, and would perform some pre-determined tasks. Its sensor would help it identify objects underwater and also its robotic hand would grab the objects and bring it out.” 

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