Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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44 unmanned systems inside   February/March 2017 MARINE INNOVATION BY THE NUMBERS 71 % The amount of planet's surface covered by oceans 99 % The amount of the global living space located in the oceans >50 % The percentage of the Earth's oxygen produced by marine plants A new class of small remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)—with petite prices and consumer-friendly operating controls—promises to open the world's waters to personal exploration and collective environmental monitoring. These personal-class submersibles may also wind up fueling the same rush to innovation that is making the drone industry an economic force. by Dee Ann Divis Photos courtesy of OpenROV H idden gold, a drowned child and sunk- en horse drawn carriages: the stuff of local legend—and the catalyzing mys- teries that helped launch a new class of under- water drones. This new category of remotely operated ve- hicle (ROV) is highly portable and intuitive to operate. What really sets them apart, however, is their price. Most of those described here — which will all be available by this summer if they aren't already being shipped—sell for $1,200 or less. At those prices, and with the f lexibility being built into their designs, they are poised to shift the f low of innovation to the 'smalls,' likely kicking off a host of industrial applications down the road. They are "the hot ticket these days," said Philip McGillivary, who tracks technology as the sci- ence liaison for the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area/Dept. Homeland Security. Series 2 "It all started with a story of buried treasure," said Eric Stackpole, a co-founder of OpenROV, which is known for its make-your-own ROV kits. A student working at NASA-Ames at the time, Stackpole had begun building his own ROVs out of frustration. "When we're working on a satellite, it's prob- ably 15 years before a mission actually launches, if it ever launches, and we don't have control of it—you need a rocket ship to get to space," he told Inside Unmanned Systems. "I realized the ocean is this dark, mysterious place where there are creatures we've never seen before…and all you need is a shoreline and some curiosity." That desire for personal exploration was sharply refocused, however, when a friend told him the story of a cache of stolen gold. "During the gold mining days of California," Stackpole said, "there was this gold heist and allegedly 100 pounds of gold was hidden in this reportedly bottomless, water-filled pit in the back of a cave that no one had been able to get to the bottom of. So that kind of gave me a rea- son to build this robot." Stackpole took his ROV and, with his soon- to-be cofounder David Lane, found the cave and the pool. "We didn't even know if the story was true. Sure enough we found the cave. In the back of it, just like reported in the story, we found this kind of perfectly circular, six-footish diameter hole going straight down." Unfortunately, the ROV didn't make it to the bottom. "This is the early days and we had a lot of problems with the robot," Stackpole said. "We had a lot to figure out." The publicity surrounding the attempt, how- ever, attracted people interested in ROVs and that group coalesced to support a series of im- proved iterations of the device. After they dis- patched the technological gremlins Stackpole and Lane launched a Kickstarter campaign of- fering do-it-yourself kits containing everything necessary to build an operational ROV. "The kit is what we've been selling since that first Kickstarter project in 2012 and we've sold OCEAN VIEW: ROVs for Everyone Source: Ocean Institute, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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