Changing Planet

The Underwater Robot Anyone Can Afford

When we first heard about Open ROV, it was seemingly another interesting, albeit typical, Kickstarter campaign: two young Californians with the idea to create a submersible robot- a project every robotics nerd has toyed with at least once.

But the full implication of the bot became clear when Eric and David, Open ROV’s co-founders, presented their project to an audience of National Geographic media staffers.

“It’s no longer just James Cameron going down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench”, says co-founder David Lang. Operated remotely from a laptop and equipped with a live video feed, this shoebox-sized submarine can dive up to 100 meters (approx. 328 feet), farther than most scuba divers. Although not yet the depth of the Marianas Trench, the technology is moving fast.

OpenROV- Open Source Remote Operated Vehicle- was born from the collective knowledge of an enthusiastic telerobotics community. The building design and list of parts are posted online for anyone to use or improve upon.

Built from mostly off-the-shelf low-cost parts, the sub can be used for exploring a backyard pool or a vast submarine canyon with little risk. Interested explorers can either use the online plans to build the robot themselves or order an OpenROV kit from OpenROV.com.

Open ROV visits National Geographic Headquarters. Photo by Brian Lam.

 

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How to buy a kit

More photos of the OpenROV

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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