2014 Rules and Events

Competition General Rules

Updated 12/3/13

1. 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.

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3. 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.

5. Three overall trophies will also be awarded, one in each of the three classes (Middle School, High School and Open) for the best combined scores from all three events.

6.  A National Champion trophy will be awarded for the best combined score across all Stock class competitors. Open class competitors are not eligible for the overall trophy.

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

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

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10. 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.

11. 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.

  • Hooks and attachments may 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. Over charging or stacking batteries is not allowed. 

  • 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 be 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. Over charging or stacking batteries is not allowed.  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.

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

The Heist

The course consists of a mesh vault wall spanning the lane from bottom to surface. Starting 2’ below the surface will be the Vault door. The door will sit within a 24” opening in the wall. In order to open the door operators will have to manipulate a simple latch and push the vault door open. On the other side of the wall there will be a series of boxes to be retrieved. Operators will have to attempt to retrieve as many of the boxes as possible in the time provided. Retrieved boxes will have to then be placed in a specific 18" x 24" “lay down area” near the wall on the operator’s side of the wall.

The Wall is made of 1/2“ PVC pipe and fittings. The Nationals course is designed for a 10’ deep pool.   The setup when installed in the pool will place the door 2’ below the surface. The door is constructed of ½” CPVC pipe and fittings. The door and wall will be covered with a plastic mesh, similar to snow fence.

UPDATE 1/3/13: Course details are in, full build specs are posted now. Final rules and weights are posted.

 Click the image below for detailed course information.

Vault Door

There are 6 visually identical boxes on each of the courses for nationals. Box is constructed from Digikey P/N 377-1165-ND and a ¼” Polypropylene line. Each box will have different weights in the box. 

1 2 130g
2 3 140g
3 4 150g
4 5 160g
5 6 170g
6 8 190g

Washers -> 1/2" x 1-1/2 Fender Washers


Heist Rubric-Draft

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.


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

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