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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46 unmanned systems inside February/March 2017 MARINE INNOVATION Photos courtesy of Fathom tether connects to the Wi-Fi Topside Module, a floating connection that helps you know where the drone is and enables control via a touch- screen, game controller, joystick, or keyboard. The ROV itself also has a large payload area where accessories can be added via threaded holes set up in a grid pattern. Accessories in- stalled there would communicate with the ve- hicle via onboard Wi-Fi. Trident's high-definition camera has been specially tweaked for underwater photogra- phy—images that users are invited to stream to the firm's OpenExplorer web platform. "It's a 10 ADP (HD) camera but the thing that really stands out about it is what we've done with low-light sensitivity and color rendition," Stack- pole said. The results are such that, he said, "in many cases the view you have with a Trident is even better than the view you have in person look- ing through a dive mask." To make the ROV more rugged, its brushless motors have been custom designed to better withstand the sort of grit that might be kicked up cruising close to the bottom. The shell also has been tested against chemicals that might be found 10-inch Jiffy drill—the standard drill for boring holes in the ice. There is a strap that holds the tether so the unit also can be hauled back up through the same hole without a problem. McGillivary noted the advantages of the per- sonal-class ROVs, particularly how much lower the prices are compared to what many federal agencies are using now. The smaller ROVs, how- ever, would likely have to go through a year to three years of testing, he said, before officials would be ready to rely on them. The private sector, however, appears to be moving more quickly. "We've heard from nuclear power plants that want to be able to inspect their fuel cell tank and not worry about super expensive equipment becoming irradiated," Stackpole said. There is interest as well from consumer-facing firms like diving tour operators and resorts who want to be able to let potential customers look around under water. Operators of aquaculture farms are weighing using the new ROV as well. According to the Kickstarter page, 1,324 backers pledged over $800,000 to get the Trident off the ground, selling more than 800 in the process. The preorders, which are now available for just a little less than $1,200, have been "much more than that," Stackpole said. Units will start shipping this summer. There's More Though OpenROV may have been one of the earliest firms to offer personal-class ROVs, they are by no means the only one. The PowerRay is a fishing/fish-finder ROV from the drone maker PowerVision that uses sensors to help locate fish and then tempt them with a baited hook. Introduced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, this device, like most of the others, sends videotape of what it sees to the operator's mobile device. Though pricing had not been announced, the firm said it expects to begin taking preorders at the end of February The GNOM from GNOM-ROV, available in different models for under $10,000, also targets " 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." in the water like chorine, gasoline and diesel. That ruggedness could support what may be- come a broader use of the Trident for industrial and research purposes. Government customers are looking at Trident as a way to do inspections and to support emer- gency responders doing search and evidence recovery, Stackpole said. The ROV is also suitable for expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, he said, and is designed to operate in polar temperatures. Moreover, it is specifically sized to fit down the hole made by a FINALISTS Fathom One and OpenROV were both finalists in the United Arab Emirates' Robotics for Good competition. The $1 million grand prize had yet to be awarded as of press time. Eric Stackpole, co-founder, OpenROV