What happens when an entire community comes together to help one man discover underwater treasure? Quite possibly one of the best maker projects ever devised is born, that’s what. Meet OpenROV, an open-source exploration submarine created for the DIY community, powered by a BeagleBone!
The OpenROV project began when Eric Stackpole wanted to explore a cave near his home that was rumoured to have buried treasure. When neighbors got wind of his idea, everyone was willing to help (go figure). The real magic, however, began when scientists heard about the idea of creating a tiny, open-source submarine and got to thinking.
Makers, engineers and scientists from more than 50 countries banded together to make Stackpole’s dream a reality. Why? Because an open-source robot can be programmed to do just about anything. Scientists believe they can program the OpenROV to do everything from monitor pollution under the sea to discovering new aquatic species. Plus, Stackpole gets to hunt for gold too. It’s a win-win.
The robot is 30cm long, 20cm wide and 15cm tall and it looks just like what you always hoped Scuba Steve would use during his underwater explorations. It weighs in at 2.5kg and was designed to withstand depths of up to 100m, although its only been tested at 20m.
OpenROV in action underwater (via OpenROV)
The DC-powered design features a single 10cm by 18cm waterproof tube that protects all electronics and equipment from water damage and it can move horizontally, vertically and diagonally with the help of three 800kv brushless motors, two horizontal thrusters and one vertical thruster. It’s also fully controllable via computer keyboard or USB controller.
At its heart is a BeagleBone single board computer and their OpenROV BeagleBone Cape. Does that mean they want you to experiment with their cape? It looks like it.
The robot is fully functional in both fresh and saltwater and moves at 1m/s. It is still, unfortunately, an energy guzzler, as it takes 8 on-board C batteries for every 60-90 minutes of activity, but improvements are in the works.
OpenROV successfully completed its Kickstarter campaign on Friday and is looking to make several improvements to the design in the near future, including more efficient propellers and better resistance to rusting caused by salt water.
There’s no word on what the final product will retail ─ it is still largely an experiment. Once the kinks are worked out it should launch for the general public, but for now if you’re lucky enough to find one you’ll have to tinker with it yourself. This does, however, grant you the freedom to program it to do your evil bidding. There’s no underwater lair you won’t be able to discover. Fight evil responsibly.