These affordable underwater drones are the new wave in ocean exploration

IDG News Service | Jun 8, 2016

Two companies are hoping to make underwater exploration accessible to everyone by building low cost, easy to use aquatic robots.

We know more about outer space than we do about our oceans.
Two companies are hoping to change that with low cost, easy to use, underwater robots.

Seadrone takes concepts from aerial drones and applies them to dangerous underwater jobs.

It has an array of sensors, including temperature, current, and voltage. A nine axis inertial measurement unit paired with an automatic depth and heading system also make steering the drone quite easy and allow operators to focus on doing their jobs rather than controlling the robot.

Eduardo Moreno, the founder of O-Robotix, says 4 hundred-thousand divers risk their lives working underwater, so he created Seadrone.

“You always wanna build a robot that can empower a human. If it can do the task better than a human, you wanna make the robot go in places that a human can’t go, somewhere where it’s dangerous, and you also wanna design a robot that can also get the job done more precisely.”

It’s already being used in the gas, infrastructure inspection, and aquaculture sectors.

The robot comes in three price points depending on the number of thrusters you want to add to the upgradable platform. The cheapest is around 23 hundred dollars and comes with three thrusters. The most expensive model comes with six thrusters and costs close to 4 thousand dollars. All are available to order online.

OpenRov takes cheap underwater robots to a new level with their most basic model, the 2.8, coming in around 9 hundred dollars. And whereas Seadrone aims to create the perfect work drone, the idea behind OpenRov was to build an exploration drone for the people, by the people.

“Our origin sort of was that we didn’t really know how to do this. It was something that we knew we wanted to build, but beyond having millions of dollars to invest or the knowledge already in-house, we decided to crowd source it.”

True to its crowdsourcing nature, OpenRov’s 2.8 under water drone comes in a DIY kit. It doesn’t include as many standard sensors as Seadrone, but is easy to modify.
OpenRov has already sold around 25 hundred units to researchers, educators, and exploration enthusiasts. The company has also pre-sold around 1 thousand units of their new drone, Trident, which will be much faster and more maneuverable than the previous model.

Both drones go down to about 100 meters, so while you won’t unlock the oceans’ deepest secrets, at least you can whet your appetite.