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Underwater rover created by international student team to be shown at Dubai Design Week

The underwater exploration rover Find-X can be seen at an international exhibition of student works at Dubai Design Week, 13–17 November.
Team Findia from Aalto University and the Indian School of Design & Innovation

Thousands of small underwater rovers make their way across the bottom of the sea, transmitting live feeds to observers around the globe as they go. Anyone can sign up to crew a vehicle and possibly even play a part in discovering lost wrecks or treasures.

This is the vision of entrepreneur Oskari Heikkilä, and it came closer to reality as students from Aalto University and the Indian School of Design & Innovation built the first prototype of such an underwater vehicle. Dubbed Aalto Explorer Find-X, the underwater rover can be seen in 13–17 November at Dubai Design Week’s Global Grad Show, an international exhibition of student works from the world’s leading design and technology schools. This year, 150 student innovations from 100 universities will be showcased.

Find-X traces its roots to Aalto Design Factory’s Product Development Project course, which tasks multidisciplinary teams of students with implementing projects based on assignments given by sponsor companies. In addition to students of Aalto University, the course is attended by students of partner universities around the world.

’Our team was responsible for the design and technical specifications of the device and the user interface for controlling it. We also developed a business model and conducted a market study of potential users,’ says project manager Manuel Rosales, a design student in the Master’s Programme in Collaborative and Industrial Design in Aalto University.

aalto university Design factory, Find-X rover, Manuel Rosales and Oskari Heikkilä
Find-X travels on treads on the sea floor, connected to a solar panel on the surface for power. Photo: Annamari Tolonen.

Members of the Find-X team are students of industrial design, electrical and mechanical engineering, business and software development. Their work spanned one academic year and two continents – the Indian members of the team travelled to Aalto University for the project’s three-week final stretch in the summer.

’Working in different time zones was sometimes challenging, but we made collaboration work. It was really interesting to have a team of people with different backgrounds and different perspectives. The team members brought their own expertise and viewpoints to the project. Everyone learned a lot from the others’ fields of study as well,’ Rosales says.

Oskari Heikkilä was satisfied with the result of the project ordered by his company, Aalto Industries. The concept of communal underwater exploration has been a long-time dream for Heikkilä. The plan is to resume development after the rover’s showing in Dubai.

’This prototype takes the vision a step closer to reality. The students handled the idea ingeniously and they were easy to work with. I believe this kind of collaboration could benefit many companies,’ Heikkilä says.

In the main image Team Findia's students Manuel Rosales, Vivek Kishore, Anderson Sales, Megha Bhaskar, Rucha Khot, Riku Ala-Laurinaho, Henri Joona, Loi Tran, Arpita Kabra and Adriana Gomez and the sponsor Oskari Heikkilä from Aalto Industries.

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