Dauphin Island Sea Lab teaches students how to build underwater robots

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Robots are becoming more common in industry and research, which is why it is important to teach students about them.

Underwater robots, also called ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) are used for many different purposes including monitoring artificial reefs, relocating or reacclimating marine life, and inspecting offshore oil rigs.

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Dauphin Island Sea Lab is working to not only show students how to build underwater robots but also to educate them on why they are so important. They are helping to put on two competitions: one for beginners and one for more experienced students.

For these competitions, with the guidance of teachers and mentors, students learn how to build the structure of the robots, map out and implement the wiring and electrical parts of the robots, and add design modifications needed for the robot to complete certain tasks.

The tasks the ROVs are expected to complete changes every year and always mimic real-life scenarios.

This year, they have to build a temperature profiler. Last year, they had to use their robot to move items underwater, simulating relocating marine life.

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“They can also give a presentation on the engineering design in front of local judges…many are local engineers in the community,” Dauphin Island Sea Lab Marine Educator Rachel McDonald said. She added that this helps connect students to local industry and helps them start to build these relationships at a young age.

Students explained that these ROVs take months to build.

As Alma Bryant student, Jackson Cruikshank explains, “To see it moving through the water and everything working like it supposed to…it is really rewarding.”

This year, one competition is in March and the other is in April. For more information on how to get involved, click here.

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