Phillip Rhyner shows off a toy submarine he built. He operates the toy in his apartment complex swimming pool. The engineer has yet to build his three robot subs for the XPrize competition. Those machines will be much more rugged and able to withstand pressures at depth.

Phillip Rhyner shows off a toy submarine he built. He operates the toy in his apartment complex swimming pool. The engineer has yet to build his three robot subs for the XPrize competition. Those machines will be much more rugged and able to withstand pressures at depth. Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle.

— Phillip Rhyner wants to deploy a trio of swimming robots for about $180,000 to do a job that a professional services firm might charge millions for...

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