Robo-Sub Club of the Palouse travel to competition in San Diego

PULLMAN, WA - In June, KLEW News introduced you to a group of Washington State University engineers that spend their free time building some impressive unmanned aircraft's.

Palouse Reporter Rachel Dubrovin introduces us to another group of students that take the concept of unmanned vehicles under water.

Building a submarine may sound like an intimidating project for most college students. But that's not the case for this group of engineers.

"It's hands on experience we can do," said WSU Electrical Engineering Student Luke Renaud.

"It's a big design challenge, which is always exciting for an engineer," said former WSU Student and RoboSub Club President David Hawbaker.

In fact, it sounds like they enjoyed it.

"From an overall standpoint, it's a fully autonomous submarine," said Renaud. "It's a mechanical platform capable of withstanding ridiculous depths and moving at pretty absurd speeds while spinning and doing all sorts of cool maneuvers."

"Autonomous means that we don't control it at all," said WSU Electrical Engineering Student Haily Holt. "It makes decisions based on what it sees within the water."

"There's three main parts," said WSU Engineering Student Cameron Evans. "There's the controls, the part that actually makes the machine move. There's the AI, the part that makes the decisions. And then there's sensors, which is vision."

"It's an absurd amount of energy stores in a tiny little tube, harnessed to do the coolest things I can possibly imagine," said Renaud.

"It has torpedo launchers, things that can drop markers into bins," said Hawbaker. "It has a claw to pick things up."

"It can turn circles," said Evans. "It can do a barrel roll."

But even these ambitious Washington State University students will admit that they needed some help.

"We needed mechanical engineers, so we asked U of I if they could provide anyone for us," said Hawbaker. "And they really wanted to collaborate and so it was a great opportunity for both our schools."

The "Robo-Sub Club of the Palouse" took their 60-pound sub to San Diego this summer to compete against teams from all over the world.

"We did fairly well, but ran into a couple road bumps along the way," said Holt.

"We had a few issues with communication between some of the devices, which we should be able to iron out here at the beginning of this next year," said Hawbaker.

They didn't bring home any trophies this year, but the engineering experience helped a few students land a job after graduation. And, they're already preparing for next year's competition.

The Robo-Sub Club of the Palouse is funded by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).