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2018 Challenge

Airport, Earthquakes, and Energy


The Pacific Northwest area of Washington State is known for its beautiful and lively geography, sitting between the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, their snowcapped peaks hiding temporarily dormant volcanoes and tectonic plates prone to earthquake activity. The combinations of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have shaped this piece of North America, raising the mountains and creating rivers via the snow melt that flow into deepwater lakes. Earthquakes also cause mudslides, landslides, and lahars that have wiped out large forested areas and resculpted the terrain. A fjord ties the Seattle area to the rest of the world through the Pacific Ocean. Known as Puget Sound, this fjord was formed by these same earth-moving forces. Puget Sound is also susceptible to another earthquake effect: the tsunami.

Seattle’s history reflects a wide variety of businesses based on the local geography and natural resources, beginning with logging, farming, and fishing and evolving to high-tech and bio-tech. In addition to this, Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, Microsoft, and Boeing, which is why Seattle is known as “Jet City.” This only adds to the popularity of the Seattle and Tacoma ports that started booming during the Alaska gold rush. These ports continue to be some of the busiest ports on the west coast today.

The Pacific Northwest has been developed and is constantly changing, but a general reverence for the areas rugged beauty has been a constant. In light of growing concern for the humankind’s impact on our world, people in the Pacific Northwest are leading efforts to research and quantify these effects. Brilliant young minds that grew into being on the cutting-edge of the manufacturing and high-tech industries are now coming together to develop renewable energy options and reduce the dependence on petroleum. Areas of previous industrial activity or environmental disasters are being restored. Invasive species are being removed, while both plant and animal native species are being reintroduced. Organized volunteers educate the public on how to responsibly enjoy all the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest – and to fight to keep it for all to enjoy for generations to come. 


The Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and crew that can operate in the salt and fresh water areas in the Pacific Northwest. The specific tasks for the ROV and operators include:

1) Locating the wreckage of a vintage airplane and returning its engine to the surface.
2) Installing or recovering a seismometer.
3) Installing a tidal turbine and instrumentation to monitor the environment

Before launch and operations, the ROV must complete a series of “product demonstrations” staged at a swimming pool at various regional locations. (Depth requirements vary depending on competition class; see SPECIFICATIONS below.) Companies that successfully complete the product demonstrations and deliver exceptional engineering and communication components (e.g. technical documentation, engineering presentations, and marketing displays) will be awarded the contract.


Read a summary of the mission tasks and electrical and fluid power requirements for each competition class below.  Unlike 2015, the product demonstrations will not be separated into different runs; all five product demonstrations will be accomplished in one product demonstration run.

EXPLORER 2018 mission information

RANGER 2018 mission information

NAVIGATOR 2018 mission information

SCOUT 2018 mission information