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Outreach Blog

We love autonomous robots here at Arcturus, and we want to share our tech with our community! Autonomy is often unfamiliar to those not interested in engineering, so we work hard to cater to all levels of background knowledge during our outreach events. Here are some examples of events we have run or attended so far this season!


Spark is a weekend-long event at MIT where 7th and 8th graders come to MIT’s campus to take classes taught by MIT students! On Saturday, we had around 30 middle school students from around the country work in groups to build their own Sea Perches, remotely operated underwater vehicles, in the MIT Sea Grant. We began with a brief lecture on pressure, buoyancy, and Archimedes' principle, so they would understand the physics of how underwater vehicles work.

From there, we broke students off into groups of 3 to 4 and gave them a live demo of how to build and drive a Sea Perch, including cutting PVC, patching or drilling holes, and attaching the motors. After showing them some examples, the students began creating their own ROVs. We think the kids had a really good time, and we really enjoyed seeing all the creative designs they came up with, since they were different shapes and sizes we’ve never tried before!

WeCode Harvard Conference

Despite some travel mishaps (aka accidentally going to the Harvard main campus instead of the new engineering building on the other side of the Charles), I am glad that I took time out of my weekend to attend the conference and learn more about women in tech industries. The different presenters were all impressive and shared many important lessons about their experiences.

Of course, most of my time was spent attending speaker events. I enjoyed Nietfield’s humorous and down-to-earth talk breaking down the myth that choosing tech means ignoring creative passions. I had never considered how tech builds skills that can prove invaluable in creative pursuits as well, such as patience, accepting failure, and asking for help. Thanawala’s keynote on why women fail to be promoted in the workplace was brutally honest and useful in guiding my thoughts on what I should work on next. Her advice was based on research as well as her own experience as a woman who had worked in the tech industry for years, and her examples illustrated her points vividly. The talk was so engaging that most of the crowd stayed when she went half an hour over the scheduled time to finish the presentation.

I overall enjoyed the experience, met numerous impressive women working in different sectors of the tech industry, and would recommend it to anyone interested in it next year.

Blue Innovations Symposium

On Tuesday, five of us from Arcturus attended the Blue Innovation Symposium in Rhode Island, an annual event centered around marine technology and the blue space. This event brought together marine technology experts, investors, and companies, which was a valuable opportunity for us to learn about the most advanced technologies in the blue space field and the future steps of development.

A highlight was that we got to meet Dr. Jim Bellingham, the executive director of the Institute of Assured Autonomy at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Bellingham founded the MIT Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Lab in 1988 which is part of the MIT Sea Grant. After Dr. Bellingham was very happy to share with us his previous experience working at MIT Sea Grant and founding the AUV Lab.

After the speaker panel, we also met many startups with innovative marine technologies covering different aspects of the blue space. Among the companies we met, Juice Robotics mainly focuses on AUV; Net-Zero Edge provides subsea data; Shift Environmental Technology runs various projects on coastal technology and coastal resource management, such as the Coastal Incident Management System that aims to reduce incidents’ impacts; and Sensor Technology produces acoustic sensors.

Seeing how these startups create different technologies to contribute to the blue space also emphasized an important theme of the event — to maintain and even improve the health of the ocean ecosystem. One of the projects that really spoke to this theme was Net-Zero Edge’s data center, which uses subsea data centers that can reduce not only energy costs but also CO2 emissions. It is also our goal to learn from these pioneers in the field and develop autonomous on-surface and underwater vehicles that are environmentally responsible.

Overall, we thought the Blue Innovations Symposium was a wonderful opportunity to meet those interested in the Ocean Engineering space and learn more about where our technology might be applied in industry.

HS Robotics Team, the Aluminum Cobblers, came to visit!

The Aluminum Cobblers, a FIRST Tech Challenge team from Natick High School, reached out to us after meeting us at the Cambridge Science Festival. We offered them a tour of MIT Sea Grant, giving them the opportunity to see some of the awesome research projects we’re working on including Flippy (the autonomous oyster bag flipper), Zippy (the zipline-mounted coastal monitoring robot), the underwater high speed camera rig (capturing footage of fish at 20,000 frames per second), and the SeaPerch II program (which teaches K-12 and first year college students how to build and program remotely operated underwater vehicles). We also got to give them some tips on how to effectively run a team of different levels, overcome obstacles, and work with the 3 other robotics teams they share a space with. We also closed out with a design review of their modules on their robot. So many of us had also done FTC or FRC robotics in high school, so this was an awesome blast from the past for us. We really enjoyed sharing what we’ve learned about building robots (and robotics teams!) with them!

Cambridge Science Festival

Arcturus participated in the Cambridge Science Festival located in Kendall Square, right on the edge of MIT’s campus. We were part of the Robot Zoo section of the festival, which was a fantastic opportunity to show off our autonomous surface vehicle to the Cambridge community and introduce them to MIT newest project team. We had a fun time explaining what “autonomy” means to many families who visited, and the kids were especially fascinated by our ball launch system and LiDAR mount. It was amazing to also meet local researchers who had great ideas to share with us, and also a high school robotics team who told us all about the robots that they were building.

Overall, it was a very fun and educational day, and we look forward to participating in the future! Thank you CSF!

Boat Demo for the MIT Corporation

Arcturus recently did a demo at the MIT Sailing Pavilion of our two vessels, Athena and Ship Happens. This was as a part of a broader kickoff weekend for the MIT Corporation, the governing body of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and board of trustees. Joining our vessels were several research platforms from the MIT Marine Autonomy Lab, which was working on a robot coordination project between several identical surface vehicles. It was great to get to know more of the faces behind the institute and meet many of the others working in marine engineering!