C.K. McClatchy Robotics Club Tames the Mighty Sea Perch

In my spare time, I help mentor the local High School’s robotics club. The industrious members of the club have thus far only been participating in the First Robotics competitions. This year I had attended a First Robotics event, encouraged and invited by the Silicon Valley AUVSI Chapter Vice President, Rick Riccardi.

Enter the Sea Perch…

Of course, I had encountered the wily, and not so elusive Sea Perch at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference in 2010. They had a huge tank in the hall and I stopped for a moment intrigued by the agile Perch. At the time, I wasn’t too sure what exactly was going on, but after a test drive, I did think they were pretty cool, and maybe one day I’d build one. Along with a long list of other stuff I want to dabble in someday. Fading into cloudy memories on that elongated list of more grounded needs and the noblest of aspirations lost was the Perch.

Return of the Sea Perch…

Flash forward to the 2012 Robotics Block Party and the Naval Academy’s fish (in beautiful blue and gold) was sent for us to use as part of our AUVSI chapter outreach efforts. I immediately flashed back to the tank in Colorado. At first the kids kind of looked upon the humble Perch as a sort of a peanut whistle conveyance that they could (with having First robotics experience) eat for lunch. I had cautioned them not to disparage the Perch, as it is something entirely different, the experience of operating in a hostile to electronics 3D environment.

We (the club), put the Sea Perch together decked out in a red and white color scheme, reflecting the pride of the McClatchy Lions. We took her out to the pool for her maiden voyage and were pleasantly surprised on how well she navigated the waters. Under the watchful eye of our QA director Mr. Scull, the Sea Perch was deemed FMC after her shakedown cruise.

Sea Perch in a can (Dolphin Safe)…

Well, I can unequivocally say that the Sea Perch met and or exceeded most of our expectations. The robotics club is now looking forward to entering a competition or adding some extra capabilities to the Perch. My suggestion was that we apply what we learned from the Sea Perch experirence, and think about (homework for over the summer) missions to enter the most grueling competition of them all… business.

To find out more information about the Sea Perch program go to Or visit the to see all of the exciting and challenging competitions geared toward aspiring engineers.

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