Day 1 and a sound beginning

06 Jul 2015
A view of Pico and its dormant volcano from across the channel in Horta.
Prof. Silva, the DOP director welcoming the REP-15 participants.
The kick-off meeting with folks from DOP, FEUP, NTNU and NUWC.
The busy 'lab' (actually a warehouse for DOP) where all integration was occurring.
Manuel Ribeiro (FEUP) working on his water-landing quadcopter for potential use at sea..
The DOP warehouse which has become our integration 'lab'.
Mike Incze and Scott Sideleau of NUWC preparing their Iver AUVs.
The NUWC Ivers in the lab.
Paulo Dias and Frederic Py of FEUP working on the Neptus command/control system.
Alex Nimmo Smith of Univ. of Plymouth working on integrating his HOLO camera on an LAUV.
Alex, João Pereira and Bruno Loureiro of FEUP putting together the HOLO camera on a LAUV.
First try with the physical assembly of the HOLO-cam.
Ricardo Bencatel (now at the Univ. of Michigan) and Maria Costa assembling an X8 UAV in the lab prior to flying it out in the north of the island of Horta.
Lars Semb, João Fortuna of NTNU and Sérgio Fereira of FEUP discussing the placement of payloads on the NTNU X8.
Weather in the Azores is always unpredictable. But Day 1 was superb for us.
One of Faial's many spectacular churches.

Day 1 in Horta, Faial Island, Azores started off with a 9am meeting at the Dept. of Oceanography & Fisheries, Univ. of Azores to discuss the logistics and plans for Phase-I of the field experiment. The Director of DOP welcomed us and offered us the full support of the department. Equally importantly for us, it was the first time all of us were in the same room at the same time. Discussions were led by João Tasso (FEUP) and aided by Jorge Fontes of DOP. Alex Nimmo Smith gave a short presentation of the HOLO camaera, following which we all headed to the DOP warehouse at the other end of the harbor (this isn't a big place and it took a short 15 minutes to go over). This 'warehouse' is not only next to the pier in the harbor, but has a wireless connection and benches where integration and test activities could take place. The day was spent looking over code, integrating sensors and getting ready for the latter half of the day. That was when teams split up, one group going on a small DOP vessel to test T-REX in the water, the other the FEUP team going off to the north to test UAVs over land. 

As is typical in such field exercies, things never go well right off-the-bat. And they didn't here too.

A FEUP X8 had a hard landing primarily because of pilot error. While some parts of the onboard electronics could be salvaged, the airframe was written-off. This might appear catastrophic, except these vehicles are very reasonably costed. Another reason why low-cost vehicles can and should have an impact in ocean science and engineering, we feel. 

Alex Nimmo Smith's HOLO camera also had alignment and integration problems. So it was back to the hotel to the hotel for Alex to work things out in more subdueed surroundings. 

The AUV team that went out, also had its share of things to deal with. Control parameters set on the vehicle a while ago from a previous deployment which were supposed to have been saved in memory, were not. So the Xplorer upper water-column running T-REX did what it wanted to, and not what the operater expected it to. The mission was terminated and the team returned to the lab.

After such a 'nomial' start the entire team felt good and on familiar terrirotry! So off they went for a late night dinner and some well deserved rest.