Submersible Robots

I joined the 6th grade class from McNeil Canyon Elementary School today as they tested their underwater robots at the Homer pool. These robots are surprisingly simple, consisting of a battery and controller connected to three sealed motors, with a support structure made from plastic pipes and insulation (for flotation).

The class was divided into five teams, with each group creating a different design. The kids had to perform a series of tasks with their submersible robots: following an underwater course, moving through a hula-hoop, gathering ping pong balls and bringing them back to the side, and snagging a small hoop from the bottom of the pool. It was fun watching how different robots performed and how kids adjusted motors and floatation for the tasks. I wonder how many of these children will become engineers or biologists who use submersibles to monitor fisheries and oceanography?

Thanks to Kris Holderied of NOAA’s Kasitsna Bay Lab for assistance with these submersible robots!

Check out the slideshow of images at or the video (created by Nina Burkholder) below.

All text and photographs © 2010 Don Pitcher. All Rights Reserved.

Submersible video © 2010 Nina Burkholder

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