Mountain View

getting to the bottom of our ocean


Blue Devil Ocean Engineering is a team of 3 faculty and 50 graduate and undergraduate students from Duke ECE and MEMS. The team is one of 21 international teams remaining of the original 35 in the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE as eligible for round 1 ocean testing. We have been working on this XPRIZE contest for three semesters in elective and design classes and have received a good amount of financial and infrastructural support from Duke and the Pratt School of Engineering.

  • Dolor
  • Lorem
  • Ipsum

HEAVY LIFT UAV

We are building an 18 rotor, triply redundant drone with a total lift thrust of 119 lbf. We are proposing to have a hybrid gas electric power system that utilizes the high energy density of liquid fuel over batteries to provide the electric power for our 18 rotor hover drone over a greatly extending flight time.The drone weight is expected to be 40-45 lb with no fuel.

This design assumes the drone is triply redundant in all systems including the hybrid power systems. With 14 lbs of fuel the drone could carry a 10 lb pod for over an hour assuming 10% gasoline engine brake thermal efficiency. We hope that by utilizing hybrid gas electric engine cycling we can achieve much higher engine efficiency by running the engine only at the optimal speed for 2-cycle efficiency.

Lightweight Deep Diving SONAR Imaging Pods

To generate the bathymetry required for the competition we plan to process the SONAR signals retrieved from the deep diving pods. This uses epoxy encased modular blocks of electronics that are completely separate and have no connections or wires that go outside the epoxy. This is to waterproof the electronics and provide tolerance to pressure.

The modular blocks communicate via WiFi, and the individual blocks are battery powered, and wirelessly charged and operated. This ability to have physically separate blocks provides significant design flexibility allowing development of the various blocks to proceed separately and for customized pods with differing blocks to be easily assembled onsite.

Bathymetry Generation from Diving SONAR Pod Data

To generate the bathymetry required for the competition we plan to process the SONAR signals retrieved from the deep diving pods. We have assumed that if the SONAR pings every few seconds on descent then a rich data set for synthetic aperture SONAR, (SAS) will result.

In order to generate accurate bathymetry from the SONAR data the synthetic aperture algorithms need very accurate pod translation data between successive ping locations. This is not available from the IMU or GPS sensors on the pod, and so must be derived from displaced phase center antenna (DPCA) computations on successive ping SONAR backscatter. These can provide micro navigation data that can be used to for the SAS computations, essentially providing an auto focus for the synthetic apertures.

OUR SUBTEAMS

  • Signal Processing and Sensor Fusion for Bathymetry

    Undergraduate ECE Senior Design Project and Independent Research

  • SONAR Hardware

    Graduate and Undergraduate Research

  • Pod Ocean Recovery Hardware and Software

    MEMS and ECE Senior Design Project

  • Hybrid Gas Electric Power for UAV

    Undergradate MEMS Senior Design Project

  • Body and Hardware for Drone

    Undergraduate MEMS and ECE Senior Design Project

  • Chemical Signature Detection Hardware

    Undergraduate Independent Research Study

Our Advisors


Dr. Martin Brooke, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Electrical And Computer Engineering





Dr. Douglas Nowacek, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Conservation Technology in the Nicholas School




Dr. Tyler Bletsch, Ph.D

Assistant Professor of the Practice, Electrical and Computer Engineering





be part of our team

We have been working on this XPRIZE contest for three semesters in elective and design classes and have received a good amount of financial and infrastructural support from Duke and the Pratt School of Engineering. However, to compete in the round 1 test we are seeking sponsors and backers who are interested in supporting our diverse group of students in this challenging contest to expand human understanding of our oceans.