Pedal-powered sub team race for Gold in States

On Friday 17 June, students from the Department of Mechanical Engineering will launch the human-powered submarine they have designed and built which they hope will win them Gold in Washington DC next week.

The team, known as the Bath University Racing Submarine Team or BURST, will be representing Britain at the 2011 International Submarine Races with their new submarine ‘Minerva’.

The 2011 submarine, named Minerva, will be launched on Friday 17 June.

The 2011 submarine, named Minerva, will be launched on Friday 17 June.

Minerva, named after Bath’s Roman goddess of the water, is the team’s first foray into the race’s propeller-driven division. The team has designed the submarine to have a unique high-torque propeller and high-efficiency control system.

The boat will be officially launched at Vobster Quay Diving Centre near Frome at 2pm on Friday 17 June.

Members of the public are invited to the launch, where they can learn more about one of Britain’s more unusual sports, and see the boat before the students take it to compete in the States next week.

The team will also be racing a second submarine in the competition, the University of Bath’s 2007 silver-medal winning boat called the ‘SeaBomb’. This boat uses oscillating wings inspired by the highly efficient swimming of a sea lion to propel forward.

SeaBomb has been completely redesigned this year with automated controls, novel composites and hydraulic transmission. This submarine will also be at the launch event for spectators to see.

Matthew Parramore, team spokesperson, said: “We are really pleased with the standard of both submarines we are putting forward this year. With backing from our sponsors we have been able to develop both machines to a very competitive standard and we are looking to build on previous success in our quest for gold in Washington.

Students from Mechanical Engineering test the submarine ahead of an international competition held in the States next week.

Students from Mechanical Engineering test the submarine ahead of an international competition held in the States next week.

“We believe that the increased maximum speed capacity of the SeaBomb will give it another excellent shot at the podium, and the efficiency of Minerva should give the big-boys of submarine racing a run for their money.”

The competition is a 100 metre underwater drag race in which all propulsion power must be provided by a human being breathing from a standard scuba tank.

Submarines race against the clock in two divisions, propelled either by a standard screw propeller, or by novel alternative systems of wings, fins and pumps.

Technology development is allowed for the competition, and indeed encouraged.

The International Submarine Races are held every other year in Washington, with the aim of inspiring students to explore undersea engineering and convert theoretical knowledge into practical skills.

The event pushes the boundaries of subsea technology and increases public awareness of the challenges of working deep in the ocean.

The official launch is free to attend, and parking is available on site. For more information, please email Dr William Megill.

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