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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47 unmanned systems inside February/March 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. "THIS THING SWIMS more like a fi sh than a robot." John Boss, lead designer, Fathom One the fishing industry as well as divers and firms wanting to do inspections of pipelines, dams and power plants. The RB-Micro-50 from EPRONS ROV, available for 2500 Euros (about $2,700), comes with a 50-meter cable. Intended more for leisure users, the RB-Micor-50 is best suited to low-current areas, according to the company. Blue Robotics offers the BlueROV 2, a kit avail- able with a variety of options. The ROV comes partially assembled and can be had for less than $5,000, according to one example configuration on the firm's website. This water-drone has six thrusters and batteries that can be swapped out for all-day operation. Fathom One At $600 the new Fathom One is one of the least expensive ROVs now available. Small and modular it can be disassembled and tucked into a backpack for impromptu expeditions. Developed by Fathom, a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based firm, the ROV was inspired by legends of horse-drawn carriages lying on the bottom of a lake near the family cabin of co- founder Danny Vessells. According to the story, logging operations active in the area during the 1800s stored their carriages on the lake's fro- zen surface during the winter—but an untimely thaw sent them tumbling to the bottom. Though curious about the carriages, Vessells was not a diver. He wanted to stand on the shore and check things out, Co-Founder Matt Gira said, but the only options were either too expensive or technically complex to be practical. The system that sprang from this itch for a sub- surface tour has three thrusters—a horizontal one on each side and a vertical one in the back—that make directing the drone fairly intuitive. "This thing swims more like a fish than a ro- bot, " Fathom One Lead Designer John Boss said. The firm also won early support through Kick- starter, raising nearly $198,000 from 656 back- ers in the summer of 2016. Product development is on schedule, Gira said, with the firm set to ship its first units to beta testers in February. The testers will be using a mobile device app to operate the drones. Communication is through a Wi-Fi-enabled buoy on the surface that connects to the ROV through a tether up to 300 meters long. Able to go as far as 150 feet down, the Fathom One comes with lights and an HD camera to capture and share what it sees. If users want to add a camera, more lights or other devices, there is a built- in attachment rail and two ports that enables them to boost the ROVs capability—including adding new software. Fathom plans to pro- duce its own specialty rotors and accessories but also has issued an invite for outside in- novators to get involved. For now, however, Fathom is focused less on adding accessories and more on what the mini ROV could mean for efforts to preserve the environment. $1 Million Prize As of press time both Fathom One and Open- ROV were finalists in the United Arab Emirates' Robotics for Good contest, a competition with a $1 million grand prize. In their entries both firms emphasized how their ROVs could be used to protect the envi- ronment by making information about marine ecosystems more available. "There is just a huge need in the world for better solutions when it comes to marine ecosystem monitoring and submerged infra- The Fathom One is small and can be dismantled to fi t into a backpack.

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