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Underwater Robotics

Photo of Seattle Academy Underwater Robotics Logo

Underwater Robotics participates in the annual MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) contest, wherein teams design and construct an underwater robot which executes a series of tasks. Tasks involve simulating the practical application of underwater remotely operated vehicles to solve problems such as 

  • Locating the wreckage of a vintage airplane and returning its engine to the surface.
  • Installing and recovering a seismometer.
  • Installing a tidal turbine and instrumentation to monitor the environment.

The team practices several times per week from February through May, learning principles of buoyancy, fluid power, water-proof electronics design, coding, design, prototyping, fabrication, and testing to produce a working robot that can solve the competition tasks. In addition, the team learns best practices in product management and team dynamics. 

While every team member is involved in multiple aspects of the project, each member works on subprojects, such as budgeting, marketing, electronics, chassis design, and documentation. There are roles for both engineering and business focused team members. Project leaders are elected by the team and the work is done entirely by students (with mentor supervision).

While the team is competitive in the Northwest Region, this program is intended to welcome all interested participants regardless of experience level.

Underwater Robotics at SAAS FAQ

What’s the difference between the FTC Robotics club (Red Shift) and Underwater Robotics (Blue Shift)?

Red Shift (which we refer to as “terrestrial robotics”) participates in an event (FTC) that involves working with and *against* other teams to win games. MATE focuses on a practical problem that teams attempt to solve with their design.  While the event is judged and scored based on the team’s success in solving the problems, our robot is never in head-to-head competition against other robots. The underwater aspect also adds a significant level of difficulty to the design problem for Blue Shift, as the robot must be able to maintain neutral buoyancy and stability while working several meters under water to solve the competition tasks.  

Who can be involved?

Blue Shift welcomes all participants regardless of experience level and finds roles and tasks that each member can contribute to and learn from. 

What is the time commitment?

Practices are twice a week for three hours, from February through May.  Extra practices are sometimes added in the weeks leading up to the competition.