TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. — The USS Phoenix is cruising around the bottom of a suburban pool in Temple Terrace.
The underwater robot, or ROV (remotely controlled underwater vehicle), has five cameras and a menacing metal claw that can lift and pinch when needed.
This hi-tech wonder is about to go up against underwater bots from all over the world in an international competition.
To win top prize, the Phoenix will need to do such vital real-world tasks as test water quality and help repair a dam.
All in just a few minutes.
What makes the Phoenix extraordinary is the robot was made from scrap by high school students.
“We’re trying to be the best in the world,” says Paul Fernandez, who just graduated from Tampa's Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School.
On June 20, at the MATE Rov Competition in Kingsport, Tenn., Paul and his classmates on the Phoenix Robotics will go up against squads from China, Indonesia and Egypt to be named one of the best student-led robotics crews on the planet.
The students are doing it all on a bare budget.
“We use a [Playstation] controller” to drive it, says Paul, whose team won a regional contest to put them in the big robot challenge.
Out of almost 1,000 teams, there are now less than 100 left.
“It’s pretty exciting,” says Paul.
The Phoenix Robotics gang created a GoFundMe page to help pay for travel costs. If you would like to contribute, click here.