Starfish underwater Drone

For the average person, the word drone likely brings one of several images to mind. One of those is the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles more commonly used by the military.

People with various levels of training and intelligence can now buy various versions of „copter“ drones, depending only on their budget. What logically follows are reports of people crashing their new toys (some costing $1,000 or more) into people or buildings, perhaps a testament to how little thought has gone into the idea.

Even Amazon is toying with the idea of using drones to deliver orders of laundry detergent or whatever it is that a conventional courier service can’t get to you fast enough before you run out.
The point is, when we think of drones, we typically think about one direction and that is up.

SheerTech, a Canadian industrial design company, is about to expand our directional thinking with a nifty little device that’s sure to be a hit with the underwater diving community.
It’s calling its invention the Starfish Underwater Quadradiver Robot and it won’t take you long to figure how this entirely capable device could quickly become an indispensable tool on a recreational dive boat (or any boat where fun and utility are the objective).

The Starfish—we’ll shorten the name from here on—connects its human operator on the surface with a 300-foot umbilical cord (which obviously defines how deep the device will go).
But as divers will already know, 300 feet is a long way down and there’s a good deal that can be done between the surface and that depth.
Connected to an IPad or Android device, the Starfish is naturally buoyant (which makes the surface set-up that much easier). The four 12-volt thruster motors are used to maneuver both downward and laterally and there’s a video camera as well as a maneuverable grappling hook capable of securing items weighing up to 500 pounds before the operator pulls the Starfish to the surface.

Mario Thibert, a master diver who once owned his own dive boat, is one who sees the potential of Starfish for the underwater diving community.
Writing on his website Thibert ( looked at Starfish from the diver’s perspective, and applauded the idea.
„This is not just a gadget for finding things at the bottom of the lake,“ writes Thibert. „This is a business.“
Thibert writes from experience, having owned a dive boat that operated on the St. Lawrence River, one of the busiest summer dive spots in the area off the province of Quebec, Canada.
„At the end of the day, we’d drive around in the boat near popular wrecks where there could be 150-200 divers on a weekend and we’d ‚drift‘ around where the boats would have been,“ Thibert writes. „People would drop things—a lot of stuff—when they were going down the moor line at a 45 degree angle and we’d pick up stuff like dive computers, BCDs, regulators, tanks, you name it.“


On the downside of that exercise, as divers well know, there’s a lot of work associated with just scouting around, not least of which is the need for a dive buddy.
With Starfish, trolling for treasure would become a lot easier—and potentially a lot more profitable.
Even at $2,000 per unit (the Kickstarter campaign runs until October 14) a dive community that’s accustomed to moderately hefty price tags will see the value.
Indeed, Thibert admits he paid $1,500 for a tethered camera alone.
„This is really an amazing product,“ he writes on his review site. „For a scuba diver, $2,000 is peanuts for something like this. There’s a lot of value here.“

The Starfish Underwater Quadradiver Robot is featured on Kickstarter (link

OpenROV releases Trident, a new affordable underwater drone.

OpenROV launches Trident, an all-new, low-cost underwater consumer drone. Part of an ongoing mission to democratize ocean exploration, this model is simple enough to “plug in and go,” and capable enough to use for scientific research and serious exploration. Orders can be placed on Kickstarter starting today, September 14, 2015.

Trident - In Water (2)
OpenROV has already established a rich community of makers, explorers, and ocean enthusiasts with its popular OpenROV kits. The company began in 2012 when co-founders Eric Stackpole and David Lang came up with the design for an expedition to find gold lost in an underwater cave. Noticing there weren’t any affordable underwater ROVs on the market, they realized that they were tapping into a burgeoning trend that enabled citizen explorers and scientists.

Writes David Lang about this movement towards accessible research tools, “The cost of asking interesting questions and then sharing those results with the wider world has been drastically reduced. New discoveries can come from anyone, and from anywhere.”

The first OpenROV Kickstarter project was a big success – making almost $100,000 more than their $20,000 goal. Since then they have grown significantly, shipping over 1,700 OpenROVs to more than 32 countries around the world.

The Trident underwater drone weighs less than 3kg, and is small enough to fit in a backpack or underneath an airplane seat. It can dive to 100m depth. It’s hydrodynamic shape allows it to move both quickly and precisely. Trident sends live video back to the surface by way of a thin, neutrally buoyant tether, and is controlled by a laptop, smartphone or tablet at the surface.

Potential applications for Trident are numerous, including: marine biology projects, dive site surveys, boat inspections, and underwater exploration.

Trident’s unique shape and design make it ideal for projects such as 3D mapping that require it to move along transects – long straight lines for surveying large areas. The HD video stream allows the pilot to view the underwater world in a way that has never before been possible, and Trident’s ease of operation makes flying the robot fun and exciting for anyone – regardless of technical skill. The OpenROV team has spent the past three years designing, testing, and developing Trident with the end user in mind. Expected delivery is November 2016.

At his TEDx talk earlier this year, co-founder Eric Stackpole remarked, “I like to picture a world where hundreds of thousands of people have access to these kinds of tools for exploration. What happens when you put this kind of ability to explore the world in the hands of everybody?”

Trident is a giant step in that direction.


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