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Posted by:
Bumble Bee
Bumble Bee's picture
Fri, 03/31/2017 - 12:49pm

Random Pinger

Wanted to create a separate thread for all to discuss cos we think this was one of the major shortcomings for last year. We think the random pinger from last year need to be improved as it was boiled down eventually to whether you won in the coin toss. Either of two ways:

1. Reduce random pinger to just 500 points

2. Make it fair and enforce that to get the random pinger 2k you need to do both the pinger and the actual task at the location(torpedo or bins and the pick up task)


Posted by:'s picture
Sun, 04/02/2017 - 11:13pm


Thanks for creating this thread.

  1. I believe if a vehicle completes a random task, that should be worth more that 500 pts.  But I'm open to suggestions.
  2. The rules from last year stated that a vehicle must acquire points in the random task in order to get the "random" points.  I intend on keeping that for this year.  Was there something more that you're asking for?
Posted by:
Cuauv Leader
Cuauv Leader's picture
Tue, 04/11/2017 - 4:02am

Two Active Pingers?

1. Could it be possible to have both pingers active at the same time on different frequencies? To keep the random pinger points you could have a certain frequency as the first target. Getting the human switching pingers out of the loop allows for the subs to potentially make more intelligent decisions on its own since we wouldn't have to know exactly what the sub is tring to do.

2. I can see how Bumble Bee views the random pinger as luck of the draw to some degree. A possible solution would be to give a small bonus (500 pts) for getting points at the random pinger and then a larger bonus (2000 pts) if they switch pingers and get points at the other pinger. This keeps the high reward for being able to do random tasks while limiting the luck aspect if getting points at one of the pingers is harder than the other.

Posted by:
BeaverAUV's picture
Fri, 04/14/2017 - 10:24am

Point multiplier?

I agree with much of what's been said. I think the two active pingers is a clever idea, but with up to four courses running, there would be a lot of pingers going off creating a lot of noise, which has caused issues for teams in the past.

One way to deal with the issues Bumble Bee brought up would be to switch the random pinger bonus from an immediate, one-time bonus to a multiplier for all the points you gather by that pinger. So if you chose to use the active pinger enabled you'd get something like double(?) all the points you earn at that pinger. This would deal with the 'Luck of the draw' issue, and provide a pretty substantial award for going for the random pinger. It also forces more interaction at each task to get the points.

Posted by:'s picture
Sat, 04/15/2017 - 1:54pm

During semi-finals, we have 8 pingers in the water.  I'm sure you don't want different frequency pingers to ping at the same time.  I'm definitly sure you don't want the same frequency pingers to ping at the same time.  In order to get all 8 pingers ringing and deconflicted, there would be a large delay between pings for the pinger your listening to.  Unless I could change the frequency of each pinger (potentially in the works), teams would learn which is the first task and potentially dead recon to it.

CUAV:  What's the different between specifying a frequency and having a human switch the pinger as far as intelligent UAV decisions?

BB: Do you believe the random pinger boiled down to a coin toss because it was "easier" to get points within one task than another to get the random bonus points?


Posted by:
Cuauv Leader
Cuauv Leader's picture
Wed, 04/26/2017 - 12:37am

Intelligent AUVs

Ah, didn't realize it wasn't currently possible for the pinger frequencies to be switched on the fly. 

Having the AUV make intelligent planning decisions on its own is difficult enough when the world around it is more or less static outside of its own actions. Introducing more variability in the environment makes this task more difficult. The AUV has to either assume or detect (not trivial if both pingers are identical frequency) that the pingers are switched when it wants to travel to the second pinger. This shouldn't cause issues if all goes according to plan, but limits the ability for the AUV to make an audible on the fly and abort a task early etc...

Posted by:
AUV IITB's picture
Wed, 04/19/2017 - 6:40am


1.We would like to point out here that the random pinger points are associated with the submarine's capability of localising a sound source correctly and not manipulating the environment, and to remove the issue (coin toss) raised by BumbleBee a possible solution would be to grant a small bonus for getting at the random pinger and then a larger bonus if after switching other pinger too is localized (this would limit the luck aspect if getting at the second pinger is harder as pointed out by Cornell). By adding a condition of completing the associated tasks there is no further improvement as once a pinger localised (by fluke or by true autonomy) doing the tasks will not prove how the vehicle got there.
2.There could be some other measure to prove this,

a)perhaps like when the vehicle is moving towards a particular pinger (say it is in within a certain radius), the judges could or could not switch the pinger, depending on which the vehicle will or will not have to change its path. The second switch will then be as before requested by the team.
b) A third waypoint pinger may be added (slightly offset from the path between both the pingers) which may or may not be switched on depending on judges discretion which will decide whether the AUV's path from pinger A to B is straight or via the third pinger.

But in both these alternatives the extra time some AUVs take depending on whether the judges make the extra switch or not will have to be somehow compensated.

3.Apart from this, having multiple pingers (8) run at the same time may definitely add noise, and hence it would be better to have a human switch. Also, I too have the same question for CUAUV as posted by Dave.  


Posted by:'s picture
Sat, 04/22/2017 - 5:13pm

Random Number Generator

I think I'm finally tracking what everyone is saying about a coin toss...That even if all a team is going to do is the octagon, and they choose to do a random pinger, they have a 50/50 shot at getting the "correct" pinger turned on for their task and potentially getting the "random" points (a little slow on the uptake on this one).

I'm going to introduce a new rule for the random pinger that states that a vehicle must be able to acquire points in each of the pinger sections (i.e. drop markers for one, surface for another), in order to be able to choose the random pinger points.

I'll give it more thought on how to make this even less of a coin toss and more of a reward.

Posted by:
Boulder Robosub
Boulder Robosub's picture
Sat, 04/22/2017 - 9:37pm

Just to dig into the intent

Just to dig into the intent of the rule, our understanding was that the random pinger points was an atempt to discourage deadreconing the octagon? is there perhaps a better way to discourage deadreconing and still reward localizing the pinger? 

At the same time we think that rewarding teams that go to the effort of being able to determine which tasks to complete without being told in advance is valuable. 

Posted by:'s picture
Sat, 04/29/2017 - 2:07pm


To me, deadreconing is a valid form of navigation.  So not to discourage deadreconing, but to award teams that can sense and act on the pinger.  I'm always looking for ways to award autonomous behavior.

CUAS:  I understand.  If all the pingers were on, then the vehicle could autonomous decide, "I'm done here, on to the next task,"  instead of having to wait for a silly human to make the switch (and then sense the switch).  True, not a trivial task, but one that can be done, I believe.


How about something like this:

500 points for securing points at the first random task.

1500 points for securing points at the second random task.

Posted by:
Bumble Bee
Bumble Bee's picture
Mon, 05/01/2017 - 8:13am

Have been fighting with the

Have been fighting with the new robonation forums(had a bug in the browser which needed the deletion of cache). Sorry for our delayed responses. We agree with the option : I'm going to introduce a new rule for the random pinger that states that a vehicle must be able to acquire points in each of the pinger sections (i.e. drop markers for one, surface for another), in order to be able to choose the random pinger points.

Was gonna suggest that to make it fair for both options of the pick up and torp/bins task and we see value in the random pinger enabling greater autonomy. Dave, what do you mean by first random task and second random task? For each of the task we would need to prolly define what does it mean when you complete a task for random pinger. Our suggestion is for torp/bins you either fire a torp in any hole/drop any marker in any bin and for the pick up task to just pick up and surface with the object. From this level of task completion, the AUVs would have alrdy demonstrated the level of required autonomy. 

On the 8 pingers active problem, we didn't face major issues and was able to localise all the time. 



Posted by:'s picture
Fri, 05/05/2017 - 5:32pm

Random Pinger

Sorry to hear you were having trouble with the forum.  Glad you where able to get it sorted out.

I believe we are pretty much saying the same thing.  There are two pinger tasks: Cultiave Pearls/Battle Squid (Torpedoes/Bins) and Classify/Rescue (Octagon).  When they are randomized, the first random task woud be the one with the active pinger (could be Torpedoes/Bins or Octagon).

Similar to last year's rules, in order to get points for the random pinger task, you would have to get points at each task.  So, for example, if the random selection chose the octagon as the first task, that would be the active pinger.  The vehicle would have to do something to acquire points in that area to get the 500 points for a random task (surface in the octagon, pick up samples, put them down, etc.).  Once points have been secured, the team captain could request a pinger change, and the vehicle would move to the second random task (in this case, the Torpedoes/Bins).  The vehicle would have to do something  to acquire points in this area to obtain the 1500 points for a random task (fire a torpedo through a cutout, drop a marker in the bin, etc.).


Hopefully, that all makes sense.

Posted by:
Bumble Bee
Bumble Bee's picture
Sun, 05/07/2017 - 12:17pm

Sounds good! To clarify, does

Sounds good! To clarify, does it mean that the second random pinger task would always be the other variant? That means there won't be a case of two pick up task random pinger or two torp/bin task random pinger.

Posted by:'s picture
Sun, 05/07/2017 - 11:02pm

Ah, good question!

Yes, the second random pinger task will always be the other task  You will never get the same task again.  The randomization is only for the first task.

So if the first random task is the octagon, the second will be the bins/torpedoes.  If the first random task is the bins/torpedoes the second will be the octagon.

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