The Submarine

Our submarines are one-person, pedal powered machines built for speed and maneuverability. The top speed in Wolverine II, the most recent sub, was 5.14 knots (6 mph), which we achieved at the 10th International Submarine Races. Our submarine for the 2014 race, Odyssey, is estimated to cost $44,000, and it will take 9 months to design, build, and test. The final submarine is tested in the U-M Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories, which boasts a 360 foot long model basin.


The submarine is packed with cool and innovative features. It is internally flooded, requiring the pilot to breathe from a SCUBA cylinder. Much like a bike, the pilot pedals to turn the propellers and has a joystick for steering. The pilot also has a digital readout that show information about how the sub is performing. When designing the submarine, team members develop technical skills that are valuable beyond college.

Students on the team use computational fluid dynamics to predict the hull's, finite element analysis to validate highly stressed parts of the drive train, and CAD to model the entire sub from nosecone to propellers. Students also learn several fabrication techniques, including precision CNC machining, fiberglass layup and vacuum bagging, 3D printing, and welding.