By Jack Ross ‘19

The Brother Rice Robotics Club, Crusader Robotics, has been building remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) for five years. This year, the ROV, nicknamed Edmund V, is more powerful, advanced, and hydrodynamic than ever before.

Instead of having a frame made from PVC and propellers powered by boat pump motors, Edmund V features a plastic hydrodynamic frame construction, water thrusters designed specifically for ROVs, and many custom 3D printed parts. The plastic is similar to what plastic cutting boards are made from and is not only more durable, but is easier to work with and presents a more visually pleasing design.

The ROV was designed and is being constructed to compete in this year’s Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) competition at the Shedd Aquarium in late April. The competition is focused on simulating real world tasks that would need to be completed by a ROV. This year’s competition focuses on simulating inspecting and repairing underwater dams, analyzing the health of waterways, and preserving history by recovering historical artifacts.

Since this year’s ROV is the most advanced in the history of the club, the entire ROV and all of the custom parts were all modeled in Autodesk Inventor before manufacturing and assembly. This presented a real world and arguably more fun use for Inventor, the same computer aided design (CAD) software that is used in all three engineering classes at Brother Rice.

The ROV not only provides an opportunity to use skills from Introduction to Engineering, the sophomore year course, but also introduces CAD and other skills to underclassmen that they will later learn in engineering. Although sophomore Brian Gidney will say, “I got bullied into learning more about 3D printing,” in the end he said, “I am glad I can put these skills to use in later years in both engineering and robotics.”

The one downside to the ROV possessing the unofficial title of “the most advanced ROV,” is that the control box, that houses all the electrical components, is practically jammed full of components.

Lead Electrical Engineer and ROV driver, senior Charles Dvorak said, “It was a fun challenge to go from such a simple box last year to something much more complex this year.” He was not only able to add many more components but also fit them into a smaller footprint than last year.

Although this year’s ROV has yet to hit the water, something that was accomplished before this time last year, Edmund V is still expected to be the best ever. In previous years, the in-water testing was more of trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t opposed to simply fine tuning existing mechanisms. This is a step that can be eliminated because the design of the main mechanism, the claw, has been used in previous years.

Senior Pat Walsh, the CEO of robotics, says that overall “this year seems very promising and I am looking forward to the competition.”