OpenROV Gets New Funding, Explores Underwater Caves in Mexico

By Wesley Fenlon

The newest model of OpenROV, 2.5, still costs $850 and will be largely upgradeable from version 2.4.

On Wednesday, underwater robotics company OpenROV announced it had picked up $1.3 million in funding from True Ventures. That's big, big news for a three-person open source operation, but alongside the announcement OpenROV released some bigger news for ocean exploration fans. A new version of the OpenROV, 2.5, has replaced 2.4 in the OpenROV store. The rover still costs $850 and comes in a kit, assembly required.

OpenROV's Dave Lang writes in the announcement post that more details about the new hardware will be coming shortly. Current OpenROV users won't be left out in the cold, though--he writes that "much of 2.4 is upgradeable." Some of OpenROV's new funding will go towards Internet-based ROV control, which co-founder Eric Stackpole talked excitedly about at this year's Maker Faire. The platform is called Open Explorer. Lang is hopefully it will allow the OpenROV community to share their expeditions in real time.

A new OpenROV recently took its first dive into the cenotes, or sinkholes, of caves in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Colin Ho detailed the exploration in a blog post. The area features extensive cave systems that are still being fully explored and mapped out, so the OpenROV made a dive below a cave that was first discovered a few months ago.

"I took a quick dip with the ROV into the cave, just to see how well it would do in the overhead environment," Ho writes. "I didn't venture in too deep ( It was the very first dive of the ROV after all), but even just the cursory glimpse of the spindly ivory stalactite formations underwater was enough to entrance me. Words do no justice for this otherworldly and beautiful environment."

Thankfully, Ho captured the video below with the OpenROV to make a record of his exploration. The stalactites really are stunning.