Das Boot

The competition entailed the design and construction of a submarine capable of achieving as many of the following tasks as possible within a half-hour time-frame:

  1. Locating a beacon equipped with an acoustical pinger and a flash unit
  2. Retrieving an orange ring attached to the beacon
  3. Identifying the ping rate and the flash rate

Our submarine went officially under the name "BRAIN" but was unofficially named "Helen Keller" by the software development team the week several critical subsystems (notably, the sonar and the cameras) simultaneously failed during development.

Our Submarine

The Helen Keller

This is the submarine in its full glory, complete with the hydrophone array and retrieval device. The hydrophones are mounted at the ends of the long bar in the front and vertically at the rear. Also prominently visible are the two electric trolling motors mounted far on the side, giving the submarine superb maneuverability.

Underwater Maneuvering

The submarine again, pulling an underwater turn in a pool test. This is the more stripped-down configuration used in most testing; it omits the bulky hydrophone array and retrieval device.

Holding Position

Holding position while submerged in shallow water. Under radio control, the submarine will lose contact with surface operators at a depth of four meters.


The electronic guts behind the submarine, featuring a single-board computer and several homebuilt controller boards.

Other People's Submarines

SONIA - l'Ecole de Technologie Superieure
l'École de Technologie Supérieure, Montreal
HARP - Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University
SubjuGator - University of Florida
University of Florida
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
Hammerhead - Amador Valley HS
Amador Valley High School Robotics
Prowler - University of Rhode Island
University of Rhode Island
Ill-Tempered Sea Bass - USNA
The Ill-Tempered Sea Bass
United States Naval Academy
LOUIS - University of West Florida
University of West Florida
Triton - Stevens Institute
Stevens Institute of Technology
University of Colorado, Denver
University of Colorado, Denver