NAVSEA Robosub Competition (2015-2016)

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Our Sponsors Department of Mechanical Engineering

Department of Computer ScienceDepartment of Electrical Engineering Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Office of Naval Research Robosub Club of the Palouse

Team Name Tactical Underwater Nautilus Aquistition (T.U.N.A.)
Time Period Fall 2015 - Summer 2016

The AVUSI sponsors an annual competition for autonomous robotic submarines (Robosubs). The competition is hosted in San Diego, CA, and challenges engineering skills across multiple disciplines. The competition team brings together engineers from across the Palouse, but this page highlights the efforts of the University of Idaho Capstone Design team.

Problem Definition[edit]

The main goal for the year is to design and produce a working, autonomous submarine capable of completing specified goals and tasks while meeting club/competition requirements.


Launched in 1997 and co-sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Robosub aimed to advance development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) by challenging new generations of engineers to perform realistic missions in an underwater environment. The competition is open to high school and college teams from around the world and is held each year at the U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific's TRANSDEC Anechoic pool in San Diego, CA.

Design Objectives[edit]

The Autonomous Submarine must be able to complete numerous tasks designated by the competition.

These tasks include:

  • Move through a starting gate
  • Navigating from task to task on a course using visual and audio cues
  • Dropping markers at specified locations
  • Accurately deploying torpedoes at targets
  • Locate pinger and surface in appropriate area (typically an octagon)

How well each task is completed goes towards the overall team score for the competition. Other scoring can be attributed to subjective scoring.

These tasks include:

  • Team Website
  • Technical merit (Journal)
  • Written Style (Journal)
  • Tech accomplishments
  • Craftsmanship
  • Team Uniform
  • Team Video
  • Discretionary Static Points


General Requirements Specific Requirements Marginal Targets Ideal Targets
Maneuverable Control in the X,Y,Z directions Ability to travel in these directions at a rate of .25 ft/s Ability to travel in these directions at a rate of .5 ft/s
Control over yaw 360° Rotation in under 8 seconds 360° Rotation in under 6 seconds
Control over roll and pitch Stabilization within 3 seconds Stabalization within 1 seconds
Stable Statically Stable Center of mass bellow center of buoyancy Center of mass bellow center of buoyancy/balanced across centerlines
Dynamically Stable Ability to travel 5 ft with minor corrections Ability to travel 15 ft with no corrections
Positively Buoyant Buoyant by at least .5% of mass Buoyant by exactly .5% of mass
Reliable Watertight housings Watertight up to 40 ft depths Watertight up to 60 ft depths
Electronics remain cool Continuous operation time of 45 min Continuous operation time 1.5 hours
Small size and Low Weight Small outer dimensions 8' x 5' x 5' Less than 8' x 5' x 5'
Low weight in air Less than 100lb Less than 50lb
Easy to work on Modular components Sub systems can be separated All main systems can be separated
Replacement Parts Main components can be replaced in 20 min Main/minor components can be replaced in 15 min
Easy to transport and store Easily carried by two people Easily carried by two people with a special container and stand
Accurate Peripherals Accurate Torpedo Launchers Torpedoes accurate on 10" target from a distance of 2 ft Torpedoes accurate on 7" target from a distance of 2 ft
Consistent PVC grabber Grasps and Releases PVC structure consistently Grasps and Releases PVC structure with ease
Safe Low open circuit voltage Less than 60VDC Less than 50VDC
Easy-to-Operate kill switches Clearly marked and readily activated Clearly marked and readily activated with protection against accidental operation
Responsive Keyboard input operates the thrusters All thrusters are controlled by keyboard Completely Autonomous

Project Learning[edit]

Organized by Team

New Design
2016 Battery Tube Design
2016 Camera Housing
2016 Power Housing
2015 Computer Sub Model

    Mechanical Engineering[edit]

  • Camera Waterproofing

    The cameras selected by the other teams will be mounted to the sub and waterproofed by the mechanical engineering team. They will need to be mounted such that they will perform as required for the competition, but do not interfere with other devices.

    Overall mission is to make the camera housing completely water proof, using a fish lens for versatility. Mounting will be designed accordingly to work with the case

  • Battery Housing Efficient Battery Exchange

    Create waterproof carrying tube for the sub’s battery which allows for efficient swapping during testing.

  • Power Housing O-Ring Face Seal

    Create a new environment for the power control of the sub to reside free of water. Using an O-ring face seal, wing nut (hand controlled) pressure, and a experimental rectangular design, a housing with 24 "penetrator" bolts is able to supply power connection to the rest of the AUV without being in the main hull. Turns out that acrylic is not a good material to face seal with.

  • Buoyancy Approximations

    Without the entire AUV assembled it is impossible to know whether or not our allowances for buoyancy were valid. All of our designs were pool tested for buoyancy and all proved buoyant besides the battery housing (near neutral). In the end the goal is to confirm the new volume of the submarine to determine 0.5% of total mass and buoyancy. This is important because the competition rules states that “All vehicles must be buoyant by at least one half of one percent (0.5%) of their mass when they have been shut off through the kill switch.”

  • Computer Science[edit]

  • Sub Simulation

    Expansions will be made to the sub simulation software to allow it to interface with the sub AI, movement and vision software as a stand-in for the submarine. This will allow it to be used for easy testing of changes made to these systems.

  • Team Information[edit]

    Picture Bio Discipline
    2015 NAVSEA jacewestcott.jpeg Jace Westcott: Jace is a senior at the University of Idaho and working towards his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In his spare time he enjoys being outside and spending time with friends/family. Hobbies include snowboarding, and soccer. He's a nice guy, but don't let that fool you he's definitely lady's man. ME
    2015 NAVSEA DylanChristianson.jpg Dylan Christianson: A mechanical engineering student with a minor in physics and math at the University of Idaho. A Hawaiian/Norweigan, native born Alaskan he has spent many summers working on a fishing boat, but plays soccer and water polo on his off time. He is currently employed by the US Navy, in the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program. CODENAME: Brown Bear ME
    2015 NAVSEA MikeClark.jpg Mike Clark: He is a Senior Engineering student at University of Idaho working on a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering along with minors in Mathematics and Physics. He is the team leader as well as one of the head designers on the team. In his spare time, he enjoys playing water polo, volleyball and playing the saxophone and guitar. He is an avid skier and enjoys fishing and mountain-biking. ME
    2015 NAVSEA KirkDelmas.jpeg Kirk Delmas: Kirk is a senior Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Idaho. Currently is in the Navy ROTC program at the University of Idaho, and will attend Dive and Salvage School in Florida upon graduation. He is the brawn behind the operation. His hobbies include water polo, rock climbing, fishing, snowboarding, and working out. ME

    2014 NavseaRobosub CraigAllen.png

    Craig Allen: Craig is a senior Computer Science student interested in user interfacing and artificial intelligence, especially social AIs. He is prone to deep philosophical discussion, especially those that involve his particular fields of interest. In his free time he plays quite a lot of tabletop games, such as Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, as well as video games, especially those which have a strong social element or a focus on multiplayer. CS