2015 Rules and Events

Competition General Rules

Updated 2/13/15

On Competition Day there will be three competition events: two Pool Events and one Poster Presentation.  All events will comprise three classes: Middle School, High School, and Open class, with each class competing in two in-water events and the Poster Presentation.

For each of the classes, trophies will be awarded for the first three finishers in each pool event. Also, trophies will be awarded for the top three finishers in the poster presentation competition in each of the three classes.

Only two team members are allowed on the pool deck during a competition.

All team members must wear shoes with rubber soles on the pool deck.

Each SeaPerch ROV must be presented for a compliance check during check-in on Friday night, or on Saturday morning and approved by a judge prior the team competing in the pool events.

In the event that a vehicle is inadvertently interfered with during a competition, or a malfunction of a vehicle's parts (i.e., the motor) occurs that is beyond the design and construction, the lead pool judge will have the sole authority to provide the team time to fix their vehicle and to allow them to compete later in the round. Malfunctions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The 12V power system will be available for all that wish to use it. It is designed to work with the alligator clips in the SeaPerch kit. Each lane will have its own power connection.

Vehicle Design Rules

Teams are encouraged to think outside the box and change the shape and configuration of the SeaPerch ROV.

Stock Class (High School and Middle School)

Vehicles shall consist of the parts and components contained within the equivalent of one SeaPerch kit, with the following exceptions:

    • Teams have a budget of $20.00 to modify the SeaPerch. It is the actual value of the modifications that must be $20 or less. Donated material should be assessed at what the cost would be to procure the material. The $20 limit is for costs of the materials utilized on the final competition vehicle.  Reasonable spare parts are not included in this budget.

    • 3D printed parts will be costed out at $0.05 per gram.

    • All motors must be waterproofed.

    • Hooks and attachments MAY NOT be added/removed depending on the competition round.

    • Additional motors may be utilized for actuation or other non-propulsion uses. Motors may be found at Jameco P/N 232022.

    • Teams may only utilize stock SeaPerch motors in thrusters (Jameco P/N 232022).

    • Teams may not add additional thrusters to the SeaPerch.  A thruster is defined as a means of propulsion for the SeaPerch, normally but not limited to a motor and propeller assembly.

    • Teams will design for and utilize a 12-volt power source.

    • The vehicle may be worked upon by the teams during the competition

    • The vehicle cannot be dragged via the tether.

    • No dimension shall be larger than 22" (minimum obstacle diameter)

Open Class

Vehicles should consist of the parts and components utilized within the SeaPerch kit to the maximum extent possible and shall be subject to the following:

  • Teams have no budget limit. (Budgets should be tracked for presentation to Judges during poster presentation)

  • Hooks and attachments MAY NOT added/removed depending on the competition round.

  • Teams may only utilize stock SeaPerch motors in thrusters (Jameco P/N 232022). 

  • Teams will design for and utilize a 12-volt power source. A 10-Amp Max fuse shall be used for safety.

  • The vehicle may be reset by the teams during the competition

  • The vehicle cannot be dragged via the tether.

  • No dimension shall be larger than 22 (minimum obstacle diameter)

Challenges and Disputes

Sportsmanship is expected at all times. Should a protest or dispute occur during the competition it is the intent to resolve the grievance at the time it occurs, and the ruling by the Head Judge shall be final.

A team that wishes to have an issue considered shall send the student team captain and one additional student member (2) to the lead judge with the inquiry or question. The lead judge will make the decision on the issue, and this decision is final. The same issue may not be brought to the judge a second time by any member of the team. Adults may not approach the lead judge on the pool deck regarding any perceived issues.

Teams may not question the legality of other competing vehicles; it is the Head Judge's role to determine if vehicles meet the entry and compliance requirements.

Unsportsmanlike conduct is grounds for the disqualification of a team. Team members and advisors are responsible for the conduct of all members and adults accompanying the team.


Individual Events

Each event will be scored in accordance with its published Rubric. Scores for each event will then be ranked from 1st-?? for both their class and overall stock.

Combined Scores

Each teams rank in the individual Events will be added together and then ranked in order to determine overall Class Winner and overall Stock Winner

Here is the simplified scoring sheet used at nationals:


Breaking Ties

Scoring ties will only be broken where trophy places require. (i.e. ties will not be boken when ties do not effect top 3 results in any event or class overall)

Obstacle Course ties to the 100th of a second will be broken by the faster time in the secondary run.

Finesse ties to the 100th of a second to the same point total will be broken by rerunning the ladder portion only head to head. winner will have 1/100th of a second removed from their time, breaking the tie.

Class Ties will be broken based upon the best performance in the following priority:

1) Finesse

2) Poster

3) Obstacle

Any other ties not covered by this will be broked by a team of well trained monkies with darts.

Competition Events

Obstacle Course

An underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) must be able to maneuver successfully under its own power. If a vehicle cannot maneuver to the appropriate location to perform its task, the vehicle is of no use.
The submerged obstacle course involves large rings (22" minimum diameter), oriented in any direction, through which the vehicles must travel. Teams must navigate through the obstacle course, surface, then re-submerge and return through the course to the end. Consideration of optimal maneuverability, control and speed should be given when constructing your SeaPerch (thruster placement and orientation, tether attachment, buoyancy and ballast, etc) and control box. Scores for this round will be based on the fastest time for successfully navigating the obstacle course.

There are five (5) -22" diameter hoops in the obstacle course.


Obstacle Course Rubric            Obstacle Course Rules

Click the image below for detailed course information.

Obstacle Course


While many roles for ROVs require power, most require the ability to perform delicate tasks remotely.

This 2015 National Challenge task will require students to perform multiple independent tasks that will test their ability to operate their SeaPerches with finesse.

The course consists of three stations in which the vehicles will have to maneuver and actuate equipment on the pool floor. The max pool depth for this event is 5'

Scoring: Max points in the shortest amount of time.  The clock stops when the team surfaces and touches the wall with the vehicle.  Teams may stop the clock at any time, but it will not be restarted. Teams must inform the judges at the time if they wish to stop the clock and lock in their scoring.

TASK 1 - The Targets

Ever seen the biathalon? With a SeaPerch?

Teams must hit a series of 5 targets of differing sizes. Each Target must be pushed in until the flag Flies! ~3”

The targets will range in size and therefore difficulty. The inner diameter of the targets is as follows: 1”,1-1/2”, 2”, 2-3/8”, 3”.

The heights of the target centers will vary from 2” to 6”. Each target center is separated by 4”

Scoring: Each target is worth 1 Point (max 5 Points)

The Target

TASK 2 - The Pipes

“I pick things up and put them down!” What SeaPerch challenge would be complete without a little lifting?

These light weight pipes with a ring attached must be picked up and put in their corresponding set of pipes to score.

Each rod consists of a 6” length of ½” PVC pipe with a polypropylene rope loop on one end and a small weight in the other. This design allows the rod to stand up when left freestanding tin the water. The holder from which operators will have to retrieve the rings is constructed of 1” PVC pipe and will leave at least the top 1” of the rod and the entire loop exposed.

Operators will have to position the rods in one of three Vertical pipe sections with the following inner diameters: 1”, 1 ½”, 2-3/8”.

Scoring: A=1 Point, B=2 Points, C=3 Points. Only one rod scores in each Colum. (Max 15 Points)

If teams put 2 rods in one colum, the highest scoring rod will be scored.

The Pipes

TASK 3 - The Ladder

Kids these days don't know what an abacus is so we'll call it a ladder.

The ladder will require teams to actuate grey slides to the side. The Grey slides must be fully within the orange zone to score.

The device is made of 1” PVC pipe with the rungs at different distances apart, starting at 3-1/2” to 7” apart. On 5 of those rungs will be a PVC collar made of 1-1/4” PVC pipe. This collar will be 2" in length. Not all rungs will have collars on them to be actuated and will serve as guard rungs for the collars. These collars will have to be slid from one side of the rung to the other in order to be placed in the brightly painted area on the rung. The direction that the collar needs to be actuated will alternate from collar to collar.

Scoring: Each Slide is worth 1 Point (max 5 Points)

The Ladder

Detailed build documents are being developed and will be released as they are completed.

Task 1 and 2 Layouts

The Layout for the Ladder assembly

Details-- I will fill in details as I can, the parts list is updated and here are some picts of the courses going to the trial regional 0n 1/29/15

VIDEO of the Challenge

Draft Rubric

 Here is the Parts list for the devices:

Final Parts list (for now)

Poster and Presentation Judging

While preparing your poster and presentation, here are some areas to consider:

  • The maximum poster size is 48" x 36".
  • What did your SeaPerch need to do, and how did your design meet that requirement?
  • How long did it take you to build and test your SeaPerch? Describe the process.
  • Who did what on your team and why? What skills did the team have and what skills had to be developed?
  • Why did your team shape, locate, or angle the foam/weights/motors as you did (initial placement vs. final placement changes)?
  • What design changes did you make as a result of the testing and evaluation of your SeaPerch prior to the challenge?
  • What was the budget for your vehicle and how was it managed?
  • Is each team member prepared to answer questions from the judges?

The 2013 Rubric is available for review.  Click here to view.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Become a sponsor of the National SeaPerch Challenge and help support the next generation of subsea engineers and scientists.  Click here for sponsorship opportunities that will highlight your company at our event.

Rules Blog

Have some questions on the rules and how to apply them?  Don't Guess ask here!

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Judging is both fun and rewarding. No experience is necessary for either the in-pool or poster judging.