Underwater Hobby Drones Are About to Become a Thing

2015-09-18

Underwater Hobby Drones Are About to Become a Thing
Now, a new Oculus Rift-ready underwater drone called the Trident could make undersea exploration the domain of average families on vacation.

The Trident is being developed by the team behind the OpenROV kit, a build-it-yourself underwater drone—technically, a remote-operated underwater vehicle, or ROVthat became a darling of the amateur explorer scene after its release in 2013. Trident aims to take the functionality of the OpenROV kit and make it work right out of the box, with no assembly needed. It can be operated remotely, or move autonomously.

To get the Trident out of the prototype stage and manufactured on a large scale, the OpenROV team set up a Kickstarter campaign that has so far garnered more than $370,000exceeding its original target fivefoldwith more than a month left to go.

“I think that’s a really cool idea for the average boater, or a person who lives on or near a lake,” David Lang, one of the two founders of the OpenROV project, told me over the phone. But there are also a ton of industrial applications. thats what all these other, more expensive ROV units are used for now: search and rescue, nuclear facilities, aquaculture. We feel really confident this unit will be used in that regard, too.

Right now, the Trident prototypes are mostly made up of components found in the original OpenROV kit. When its finished, Lang says, itll have an Oculus Rift-enabled camera so you can freak out over seeing a fish swim right up to your face. The drone will also come with depth and temperature sensors, and the team has plans to add a conductivity sensor, which would essentially turn the Trident into a mobile CTD, a commonly used device in oceanography.

Users will also have the ability to add their own sensor modules and send that data up the Tridents tether. Were thinking of it like a platform, Lang said.

The Tridents eventual price will be just over $1,000, which isnt exactly cheap, but also a far cry from the price tag on some other ROVs on the market, which can cost a few thousand dollars. The Tridents price also puts it in the same ballpark as popular hobby drones, like the Phantom DJI.

For a lot of people, that is a lot of money, Lang said. But I hope that when people see this out in the wild and get a chance to fly them, theyll see that this actually has tremendous value.

Region:  USA and Canada
Contry:  USA
Category:  AUV


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