The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is the local sponsor of a national underwater robotics competition, and some students I know were participants yesterday.
The premise of the competition is that an airplane has gone down in the ocean. The robotics team must locate and retrieve the black box, as well as perform several other exercises in the wreckage.
Locating the black box is a math problem, and one of the team members here was entrusted with that. The math was flawless, as it had to be, because the robot can only be directed by the folks sitting at the monitors, who cannot see the robot itself. The team members who put the robot in the water are not allowed to speak to or signal the pilot. The robot had three cameras, though, and you can see their monitors in some of the pictures.
This was the first time this team had participated in the competition, and though they did not win or place, they did very well, considering. And since the entire team consists of freshmen and sophomores, the future looks good!
Update: Our favorite team came in fifth in a field of sixteen. WAY better than was expected for a first-time competitor.