An open-source submersible robotics project founded by NASA engineer Eric Stackpole has raised over $650,000 towards the future of ocean exploration — or to be more specific, towards the mass production of a relatively inexpensive underwater drone with a camera known as Trident.
OpenROV kicked off its first crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter three years ago with the goal of creating a low-cost submersible robot. At the time, the team was working out of Stackpole’s garage, but has since moved to its new base of operations in Berkeley, California.
Today, after four years of research and development into underwater robotics, the team of international contributors has designed a new submersible drone, the Trident — a drone which expands upon its predecessor, the OpenROV 2.8.
Having already shipped thousands of OpenROV kits to customers around the world, the team is now intent on unleashing their latest drone offering to the world at large.
Trident comes equipped with an on board HD camera capable of transmitting live video to a WiFi enabled buoy floating on the surface. While the buoy is WiFi enabled, radio waves don’t travel well in water so the connection is hardwired as oppose to wireless. A neutrally buoyant tether serves as the drone’s physical link to its surface buoy, which then relays the information through a long-range WiFi signal to a laptop, tablet or other WiFi enabled computer.
While Trident is capable of diving at depths up to 100 meters, the basic package only includes a 25 meter tether. However, the full-length 100 meter tether is available at an additional cost.
The team’s production schedule aims to deliver the first batch of Tridents come November of 2016.
To get in early and snag OpenROV’s new underwater camera drone before its price goes up, check out the crowdfunding page on Kickstarter.