OFF TO WORLD CHAMPS: Garin College students Brian Shin, 15, Lila Adams 15, Riley Morrison, 14 and Ryan Adams, 14 are off to the aquabot world championships in the United States. All board and say they have a shared passion for aquabots. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Aquabots are going to world champs


There’s something in the water at Garin College.

Sister and brother Lila and Ryan Adams, who are 15 and 14, hail from Rai Valley, Brian Shin, 15, is from Blenheim and Riley Morrison, 14, is from the Chatham Islands.

But they all board at Garin College and found a shared passion in the building and using of “aquabots” – underwater remote-controlled robots.

The team is so good at it that they won the overall New Zealand competition – beating out dozens of others. Now they are preparing to compete at the world championships in the US state of Massachusetts.

“I like driving them around,” says Lila. “You learn a lot from the engineering and you have to use science to justify everything you do.”

To be an aquabot champion you need to design and build an underwater Remote

Operated Vehicle (ROV) that can pick up objects and place them in different areas – all while on a timer.

“Manoeuvrability, stability and speed, that’s what you need,” says Lila. “You need to pick up objects still move and be balanced.”

Brother Ryan prefers designing the ROVS.

“It’s a lot of fun playing around with problem solving.”

They will have plenty of that when they arrive in the US in early June to ply their skills against 100 other teams from around the world.

In the meantime they have been fundraising for the trip and recently received a Royal Society grant to help them.

“It’s pretty exciting,” says Lila.