Underwater Robot

An underwater robot for an ROV engineering competition at NASA, deigned to explore the waters of space missions.


A ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) is a subsea robot used across industries such as oil and gas and marine exploration.

As part of the International ROV Competition hosted by NASA and MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education), I joined a small team of classmates to design and build a ROV capable of exploring the waters of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The competition brief, set by NASA, was to design an ROV capable of exploring the waters of planets and moons in space. This involved challenges including measuring distance, depth and temperature; collecting samples from the seabed; and manoeuvring underwater.

A key challenge was new competition rules which awarded significant marks for meeting a diametric size constraint and reducing mass, which represented the constraints associated with the ROV's space mission.

I proposed a novel spherical frame design which met the size constraint in all directions and maximised volume against the diametric size limit. Furthermore, much of the ROV's tooling was retractable, allowing it to meet size limits at the beginning of the run (i.e. in storage during space flight), before being deployed to make use of an expanded volume.

Holes in the frame allowed components to be added modularly using PVC pipe, including retractable motors, cameras, tooling, and a pneumatically-actuated gripper. This modular approach allowed greater testing and refinement pre-competition, and flexibility for future missions.

Our team progressed through the UK national competition to the international finals, held at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston placing in the top third of all winning teams.

Carousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel image