The following is from the July 9, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News

UPDATE: The submersible robot was located July 9. Check back for further updates to this story.

SMU swimming robot stolen from car

$500 reward offered; SMU students want to take Seahorse to contest

The Dallas Morning News

Seahorse 1 in the Dedman Center pool
Seahorse 1 on a trial run in the swimming pool at SMU's Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

A submersible robot designed to search for underwater treasure instead became the hunted when it was stolen from a car just days before an international contest.

A reward of $500 is being offered for the return of the robot, dubbed Seahorse 1, which went missing from a vehicle parked Saturday night at the Alexandria Apartments in the 4400 block of Cole Avenue, south of Southern Methodist University.

The robot was to be the SMU Robotics Club's first entry into the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition, which begins Wednesday in San Diego.

"We've been working on it since January," said Andrew Murphy, one of 15 club members involved in the project. "This would have been our very first year to do this, and we were trying to be the best new team."

The competition features almost 30 entries from schools across the U.S. as well as India, Canada and Japan. The University of Texas at Dallas also has a team. The contest's Web site says prizes of up to $20,000 will be awarded.

Mr. Murphy said he and four team members planned to leave Tuesday for the 10th annual competition and so far have not canceled their entry. Instead, they are scrambling to build Seahorse 2, hoping to replicate in record time the $3,000 robot they spent thousands of hours building.

Mr. Murphy said the missing robot, which he nicknamed Yellow Submarine because of its bright yellow body, is of little use to anyone else. Its onboard computer responds to sensors and light cues, he said, not a remote control.

Seahorse 1 had been loaded into Mr. Murphy's fiancée's car Saturday evening after a final test run in the pool at SMU's Dedman Center. Mr. Murphy said when he went out to the apartment parking lot Sunday about 8:30 a.m., the car door had been jimmied and CDs were scattered on the pavement.

"I looked in the back seat and said, 'Where's my robot?' It doesn't look like much so I don't know why anyone would want it," said Mr. Murphy, 22, an engineering graduate student. "We looked in every Dumpster up and down the alley, posted fliers and talked to folks who dig for cans in the Dumpsters."

But what they're really hoping is that someone calls with information on the whereabouts of Seahorse 1. The reward, students said, is being offered with "no questions asked."

"We did this on our own time, neglecting our families and loved ones to do it," Mr. Murphy said, "and if it shows up tomorrow, that would be great."

Anyone with information about the robot can e-mail Mr. Murphy at

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