Student-Made Robots Sink or Swim at RoboSub Competition
More than 200 students will test their engineering skills when their self-guided robotic submarines compete in the 14th International RoboSub Competition July 14-17 in San Diego.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Jul 08, 2011

Cornell University College of Engineering student Kevin Fuhr (’12 ME) prepares to test Tachyon’s torpedo launcher at the 2010 competition as fellow team members look on.


Later this month, more than 200 students from 30 schools in seven countries will converge with their self-guided robotic submarines on the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in California for the 14th International RoboSub Competition. The stakes? Up to $20,000 in cash prizes and bragging rights to the title of “Best RoboSub.”

The competition, which takes place July 14-17 in San Diego, is hosted by the AUVSI Foundation and the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Student engineers have been tasked with designing and building Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to perform realistic missions in a simulated ocean environment.

To qualify for the competition, each team must design and build an AUV capable of navigating realistic underwater missions. These missions include navigating a defined path, discriminating between colored buoys, identifying silhouettes, collecting markers, and responding to acoustic cues.

The competition is free and open to the public; spectators are invited to watch the students prepare their vehicles and maneuver the underwater obstacle course. The event schedule is:  

Friday, July 15 – 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 16 – 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 17 – 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

A live webcast of the competition finals will be available online at on Sunday, July 17 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. PST. The webcast will feature guest panelist Dr. Zoz Brooks, former co-host of Discovery Channel’s Prototype This! Dr. Brooks is an engineer, artist, roboticist, hacker, and teacher whose research focuses on engineering strategies for improving human-robot communication, based on work undertaken at the MIT Media Laboratory's Robotic Life Group.

SeaPerch, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) used as an entry point into robotics by late elementary and middle school students, will be demonstrated at the competition as well. The U.S. Office of Naval Research, SeaPerch, NEDP, and SNAME have joined together to bring San Diego students the opportunity to participate in this hands-on robotic activity. Demonstrations will take place alongside RoboSub July 14-16 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

The AUVSI Foundation and ONR are the title sponsors of the RoboSub competition. Additional support has been provided by SPAWAR, SmallParts, DS SolidWorks Corporation, Intel Corporation, Battelle, Teledyne Impulse, Northrop Grumman Corporation, SeaBotix, Boeing, Teledyne RD Instruments, AUVSI’s San Diego Chapter and 5:00 Films.

For more information about the RoboSub competition, go to For more information on SeaPerch, visit

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