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Student Robotic Submarine Competition Takes To The Water In Point Loma

Student Robotic Submarine Competition Takes To The Water In Point Loma

College students from universities as far flung as India are competing in the 18th International RoboSub Competition.

Young engineers are testing their skills at the 18th International RoboSub Competition at the U.S. Navy’s research pool in Point Loma.

There are 37 teams representing schools from all over the world trying to get submersible drones to navigate an underwater course in a massive oblong pool that is nearly 40 feet deep. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific is hosting the international event.

Hardik Godara and his team are from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in Mumbai. Godara is confident his team's underwater robot will do well.

“This year has been the best year for us,” Godara said. “We shot two torpedoes and dropped two markers. It was very good.”

Daryl Davidson, executive director for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, said it’s a big challenge to build a robot that works on land. But it’s even harder to build one that will work underwater.

“Your phone works perfectly well in your hand, but if you went swimming with it, without a case on it, It wouldn’t work so well,” Davidson said. “Water and electronics and computers don’t mix."

Many of the submersibles and team uniforms were covered in sponsor logos, just like at NASCAR. However, Jason Plojo, captain of the San Diego City College team, said the contest isn’t about money.

Plojo said the robotics project helped him reach beyond what school taught.

“It’s going beyond the limits of what you learn in class because when you're in class, it’s just a bunch of snippets of stuff rather than a whole project," Plojo said.

Friday and Saturday are qualifying rounds and the finals will be on Sunday. The competition is free and open to the public. It’s also being broadcast live online.

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