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CHIPS Articles: Take a deep dive! RoboSub 2019 kicks off 22nd year of underwater robotics competition

Take a deep dive! RoboSub 2019 kicks off 22nd year of underwater robotics competition
By Patric Petrie, Lead Staff Writer - July 25, 2019
From Aug. 1 to Aug. 4, a global swarm of young robotics enthusiasts will mass at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific’s (NIWC Pacific) Transducer Evaluation Center (TRANSDEC) pool to experiment with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) during the 22nd Annual International RoboSub Competition.

The competition, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and RoboNation Inc., features student-designed and -built vehicles navigating their way through NIWC Pacific’s research pool while completing a difficult series of visual- and acoustic-based tasks.

More than 600 students (55+ college and high school teams from 13 countries) competed to design and build a vehicle from scratch, write a technical paper, make a presentation before a panel of judges, create a short video, and develop a website that documents their progress.

The guys from the Big Bang Theory would be so proud!

The goal of RoboSub is to advance the development of unmanned vehicles by challenging teams to perform realistic missions in an underwater environment. As a core RoboNation program, RoboSub also serves to foster ties between robotics fans and the organizations developing AUV technologies. RoboSub is an important key to introducing attendees in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math and has been tremendously successful in recruiting students into the high-tech field of maritime robotics.

Equally important to developing the robotics workforce pipeline, are K-12 STEM programs like SeaPerch, a hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) exhibit, an innovative underwater robotics program that trains teachers to show their students how to build an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting will be demonstrated onsite from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Aug. 1-2.

The SeaPerch Program highlights basic engineering and science concepts with an engaging marine engineering theme.

Students build an ROV from a kit of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. The SeaPerch Program, also part of the RoboNation family, is funded by the Office of Naval Research. The goal of this effort is to encourage the next generation of naval architects, marine engineers, naval engineers, and ocean engineers.

The Transducer Evaluation Center (TRANSDEC) pool is filled with six million gallons of water; built in 1964; 300 feet x 200 feet x 38 feet deep; simulates vast underwater expanse. The pool’s design eliminates all extraneous man-made or natural biologic noises and permits precise control of surface and underwater conditions (not required for the competition).

The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides primary funding for the annual RoboSub Competition. Industry sponsors and partners include Northrop Grumman, General Atomics ASI, Blue Robotics, MathWorks, NVIDIA, SolidWorks, Velodyne Lidar, PMS 408 EOD Crew, Siemens, Teledyne Marine and AUVSI San Diego Lindbergh Chapter.

Live coverage of this event will be featured on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube on Sunday, Aug. 4 from 1 to 5 p.m., PST.

Facebook: RoboNation - AUVSI Foundation
Instagram: @robonation, #RoboSub, #RoboNation
LinkedIn: RoboNation | AUVSI Foundation
Twitter: RoboNation | AUVSI Foundation, #RoboSub, #RoboNation
YouTube: RoboNation Channel
Flickr: RoboNation

About RoboSub

• RoboSub is an international competition designed to advance the development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and develop relationships between young engineers and the organizations developing and using AUV technologies.

• Launched in 1997, RoboSub is celebrating 22 Years.

• RoboSub Student Eligibility: High School, Undergraduate and Graduate students.

• Hands-on STEM exhibit open to the public; includes SeaPerch, SeaGlide and SeaSense demonstrations.

• Competition includes participating teams from the U.S., Canada, China, India, Japan, Poland, Russia and Thailand.

• Student teams are competing for $20,000 USD in prizes.

The RoboSub Competition is designed to encourage interest in the field of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) by challenging a new generation of engineers to perform complex missions in an underwater environment. This program also serves to develop relationships between young engineers and the organizations developing and using AUV technologies.

RoboNation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide a pathway of hands-on educational experiences that empower students to find innovative solutions to global challenges. RoboNation envisions a world where technology unites people to learn, share and create. (

About NIWC Pacific

A landmark naval research facility in San Diego for 79 years, the newly renamed Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC Pacific) consists of more than 4,900 scientists, researchers, and engineers, and is a member of an exclusive team of research labs that make up the Department of Defense's brain trust.

NIWC Pacific’s mission: To conduct research, development, engineering, and support of integrated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber, and space systems across all warfighting domains, and to rapidly prototype, conduct test and evaluation, and provide acquisition, installation, and in-service engineering support.

RoboSub 2018 participant.
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