The future of underwater exploration has arrived.
Since its debut three years ago, OpenROV has made their dream of a low-cost, easily-accessible underwater drone for the masses a reality. With their AVR powered robot, the team has provided Makers, students and professional researchers alike with the ability to explore the deep seas and relay video information back for analysis. However, it’s not just about gathering data; instead, its creators are looking to revolutionize the aquatic experience with a remotely operated vehicle that could go places where no other has gone before.
Whereas most ROVs simply go up and down, left and right, or forward and reverse (and slowly, need we mind you), the newly-revealed Trident is changing the game. Its sleek, hydrodynamic body enables the bot to swiftly swim and maneuver its way through the water in dolphin-like fashion, at varying speeds of up to two meters/second with the upmost precision.
“It can fly in long, straight survey lines called ‘transects’ and perform delicate maneuvers in tight spaces, all while maintaining a sleek and powerful form factor,” the OpenROV crew explains.
Needless to say, capturing footage underwater has always been a challenge. That is why the team has developed a lightweight, 25-meter tether that communicates a video feed up to the surface. (It should be noted, however, that a 100-meter option is also available.) Trident wirelessly connects to a towable buoy that allows an operator to control their machine from any Wi-Fi device, whether it’s a tablet on a boat or a laptop on shore.
“Using a wireless towable buoy greatly increases the practical range of the vehicle while doing transects and search patterns since a physical connection between the vehicle and the pilot doesn’t need to be maintained,” OpenROV adds. “Every aspect of the Trident design has been painstakingly thought out in order to optimize performance and usability in any situation.”
Not only has it been crafted for performance but portability as well. Trident’s form factor is small enough to squeeze in a backpack or fit under an airplane seat. Meanwhile, its side panels are overmolded with a strong, rubber coating to give it protection from underwater obstacles and rough handling when being transported.
Trident is equipped with what would appear to be custom electronics along with an onboard HD camera, embedded LED lights for illumination and a LiFePO4 battery providing roughly three hours of run time. What’s more, the software driving the drone continues to be a living open source project, which can be found on GitHub.
Interested in one of your own? Apparently so is everyone else. OpenROV has already soared past its initial Kickstarter goal of $50,000 in a matter of hours. Pending all goes to plan, delivery is expected to begin sometime around November 2016.