Remember the OpenROV? It's the open-source, sub-$1000 underwater exploration robot that we got to see at MakerFaire last weekend. Friend of the site and ocean aficionado Brian Lam talked to underwater exploration experts to see how useful the OpenROV could be. It turns out, its potential is massive.
Its target depth of 100 meters is below the range that divers can easily reach for long periods of time. “Between where humans can easily gain access and where the present crop of tethered commercial vehicles can go, there is a void,” says Andy Bowen, director of the National Deep Submergence Facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Mass.
Brian's story also touches on the off-the-shelf aesthetic that the OpenROV's designer, Eric Stackpole, used to keep costs down on the ROV.
The OpenROV uses common parts to cut the cost. The depth sensor they plan to use is commonly found in a scuba diver’s computer. High definition video camera is scavenged from a cheap Web-camera that people use to video chat. The most expensive part inside is the computer, a little Linux computer called a BeagleBone that costs $89.
Still, the team thinks they can get costs down by buying parts in bulk. By finding the right mix of capability and low price, the OpenROV's opens up places for exploration that are impossible for human divers to reach, Also worth noting? Eric did much of his prototyping at TechShop.