Many people owe their passion for the seabed to the documentaries of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, but times change, and watching documentaries is no longer enough. In the era of ‘makers’, the next star of the depths may well be OpenROV, the open source underwater robot accessible to all.
Diving is an amazing activity – have you seen the DIY submarine built by eighteen-year-old Justin Beckerman yet? But sometimes it can be better to rely on a remote-controlled robot when exploring wrecks or a hazardous seabed. And this is where OpenROV comes onto the scene. It was designed by NASA engineer Eric Stackpole (@Eerrp), and was the 2012 winner in a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter worth over one hundred thousand dollars.
After this successful online fundraising, OpenROV has become a network of experts and enthusiasts who are working hard to perfect the project. You will find a special section on their web site where you can buy a complete kit, or you can download the free control software and files for 3D printing of the parts to be assembled.
How does it work?
OpenROV can dive to a depth of 25 metres, but the developer community aims to reach 100 metres in the near future. The submarine is powered by eight batteries and moves at a speed of 1 metre per second (3.6 kilometres per hour), propelled by two rear screws. There is also a third motor situated on the top that drives vertical movement.
The open source submarine is also equipped with a USB HD camera, two LED lights and an Ethernet cable for remote control and video transmission at 10 megabits per second. The cruising range is approximately 90 minutes. Naturally, it is always possible to improve performance.
That’s the beauty of open source: not only will you be able to build OpenROV in your garage, but you can also join, and contribute to, the developer community. While you’re waiting to dive into the next mission, enjoy this underwater video.