Section 600: Underwater Vehicle Design

Project: Design, build, and test a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that is fast and highly maneuverable underwater, driven by a video game controller-type control box of your own design


Students design, build, and test their fast and maneuverable own remotely operated vehicle (ROV), sometimes called a submersible, for underwater exploration.  This is a “free design” project with minimal constraints on size, shape, and function. Student teams are provided with raw building materials, 4 thrusters, a blank control box, toggle switches and buttons, and a payload consisting of a battery, a video camera (to steer by), and a tether to connect the control box to the ROV.  Students use a lab dedicated to their use to construct and test their ROV during regular lab times and open lab times provided by their Instructional Assistant.  Peer mentors, students who have previously taken this course, are assigned to each team to provide design guidance and offer support.  An additional week of ROV testing is provided at the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory in West Hall so students can see how their ROV operates in water up to 12 feet deep. A competition pitting the ROVs against each other is held at Canham Natatorium near the end of the semester.

A wide array of engineering topics are introduced within the context of the ROV project: 3D modeling, pressure, buoyancy, stability, ship resistance, basic electric circuits, systems design, probability, statistics, risk, ethics, technical documentation, and team communication and collaboration.  This course will likely be of greatest interest to those students looking to major in naval architecture & marine engineering or mechanical engineering, but any student who is interested in a rewarding, hands-on introduction to engineering at U-M is very welcome.