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Human Powered Submarine Project

logoo is a group of six masters engineers at University of Warwick, who will design and build a human powered racing submarine to compete in the 2016 International Submarine Races in July at Gosport.


The team will focus on the following themes: innovation, refinement, performance and engagement


  • The hull is the largest component of the vessel, and therefore the most complex and expensive to manufacture.The 2016 project uses only a single layup mold, which is designed to accommodate the needs of projects beyond this year, whilst allowing the hull to split into four sections for transport and maintenance.This provides a platform for future development with controlled cost.
  • The evolution of WarwickSub’s Glass-Flax composite sees Microsphere technology built into a biobased hull.
  • Comprised of sandwiched glass and flax fibres which gives a higher strength than steel per kg.
  • All bonded with a resin derived from sugar, mixed with the spheres to give additional inherent buoyancy.
  • The result is a high-quality exterior finish with reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) content and increased rigidity in this already light weight and ultra strong ‘eco-hull’, in a cost-effective package.


  • Chassis - Use of Rexroth aluminium extrusions provides a versatile, weight-saving frame. Minimised volume whilst maintaining a robust and strong chassis. FEA used to analyse loading characteristics of the design.
  • Ergonomics- Maneuvering the submarine should be as simple and comfortable as possible. Proposals are virtually validated using highly-accurate digital mannequins, supported by real-life measurement. The use of bought-in bicycle handlebars cuts manufacturing costs and ensures an intuitive control system.
  • Safety- The emergency buoy mechanism utilises more 3D printing than any previous Warwick Submarine project. It provides the pilot with a reliable, failsafe, spring-loaded system that releases when the vessel’s "Dead Man’s Switch" is let go at the handlebars.Escape hatch is simple to locate and release, whilst maintaining good hydrodynamic attributes for the submarine’s optimal performance.


  • Propulsion - Bicycle-derived propulsion converts human-pedal power through a simple bevel gearbox powertrain, to the propeller.

    Propeller: An adjustable blade mechanism allows for propeller angles to be modified to provide optimal power output quickly, easily, and without the need for submarine disassembly.Powertrain: A simple bevel gearbox converts power from the pilot through a gear ratio that provides maximum efficiency. Enhancements to the chain tensioner system over the 2015 design reduces the risk of chain drop and lost time to repairs. The gearing ratio is optimsed so as to maximise the performance of the system relative to the pilot capabilities. Material use has been reduced through application of topology software, resulting in an optimized system.

  • Hydrodynamics- To deliver a hull for the future, a symmetrical form about the longitudinal axis has been applied. This has been shaped using Jackson’s ‘Parametric Hull Profile’ formulas to reduce drag and maximise the vessels performance in slalom and straight-line speed courses. Reduced drag using Computational Fluid Dynamics software. Simulations demonstrate there will be no lift force on the hull as per best practise, whilst still optimising the flow retention of water necessary for improved performance and efficiency. This also brings simplified manufacturing benefits.

  • Control- A "Spade Rudder" design gives the pilot control of pitch & yaw about a single point of rotation.Forward dive planes gives responsive pitch control for the pilot. NACA0015 symmetrical hydrofoil gives good maneuverability in all directions and a 15% width:length ratio provides good lift/drag balance. Design refined for angles of attack of up to 23° (stall angle) and works well across a range of speeds. This is ideal for a slalom course.


WarwickSub provides a novel and exciting platform on which to engage both young minds and experienced professionals in the successes delivered by our team.

STEM disciplines are brought to life by the team’s engagement in outreach activities such as ‘Imagineering’.Businesses small, medium and large are brought together with innovative research applications at the University of Warwick. WarwickSub continues to support exhibitions domestically and internationally, to promote the teams work and achievements.

The team members can be found here

For more information about International Submarine Races click on this link

List of sponsor organisations:

  • 3M
  • Apeks
  • Axiom Propellers
  • Bosch Rexroth Group
  • Concept Group International
  • Custom Club Clothing
  • Davall Gears
  • DIAB Group
  • Elmira
  • Ergo-Link
  • HVM Catapult
  • Indespension
  • Mike Vaughn Cycles
  • Rotor Bike Components
  • Stoney Cove
  • Stratasys
  • Sugru
  • WDS

If you would like more information please contact us.