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The future of ocean exploration is here.
The future of ocean exploration is here.
The future of ocean exploration is here.
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1,324 backers pledged $815,601 to help bring this project to life.

New Milestones!

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Hello everyone! This update is particularly exciting to write because there is A LOT of new stuff to report. Let’s just cut to the chase and show you some photos of our newest mechanical prototype that just came in:
Trident prototype
Trident prototype

We’re very proud of how everything is turning out, and we hope to integrate our electronics with this model to do flight testing very soon. In addition to the industrial design work that we’ve done, some of Trident’s physical properties have also evolved. For one, we’ve increased the size and weight of the vehicle slightly to accommodate higher-density batteries and a stronger shell material. The new general dimensions of Trident are 410mm long by 205mm wide by 85mm tall, with a displacement of 3.5kg. These changes have allowed Trident to be even more solid than before while still keeping the vehicle light enough to carry in a backpack or as handheld luggage. We’ve added cavities for trim weights on the bottom of the vehicle so that it can be weighted for either fresh or seawater depending on if the plates inserted are plastic or stainless steel (both will be included). You’ll notice that the hole pattern for external payloads no longer includes the aftmost hole as we determined that it wasn’t necessary and including it would require us to make the tail section taper in a way that took away from its hydrodynamics as well as its aesthetics. 

Bottom features of Trident.
Bottom features of Trident.

We’ve done a lot of work to make sure that the communication method with external payloads mounted on Trident is robust, capable, and easy to use. I’m pleased to say that we’ve certainly achieved that through a concept we’ve developed that may seem a bit unusual. We’ve added a WiFi radio to Trident’s internal electronics which will allow payloads to communicate at high speeds while maintaining complete electrical isolation from the vehicle. This idea probably seems a bit strange- as you know, WiFi does not travel long distances through water- but it can go several centimeters at high bandwidths. We’ve experimented with this connection method and we’re really happy with the results. Connecting to payloads this way reduces risk to Trident’s core electrical system (payloads will have their own power source), and allows users to connect to the ever growing list of off-the-shelf devices with integrated WiFi such as GoPro cameras, data loggers, and embedded computers. We are currently working on extending our plugin architecture to support this system, and we’ll publish more about how to integrate with our WiFi interface in the next few months.

3D printed GoPro mount attached to Trident's external payload holes
3D printed GoPro mount attached to Trident's external payload holes

We’ve also been working on Trident’s Radio Buoy. As you will recall from our Kickstarter campaign, we’ve wanted to design a floating WiFi system that can be towed along the surface by Trident as it moves through the water. The ability to wirelessly connect to this buoy will allow Trident to run transects without requiring impractical amounts of tether management. We’ve also designed the buoy to sit nicely on a flat surface (such as a table or the deck of a boat) and there is a securing hole in the back of it so that it doesn't accidentally get pulled away if the tether is tugged. Range of this buoy is extremely dependent on external factors such as what WiFi system is being used, how much local RF noise there is, and how heavy the seas are, but preliminary tests have been promising. Even in the San Francisco Bay, where there is a tremendous amount of radio noise, we were able to tow the buoy 40-50m offshore and return to home without difficulty. We’re still working on refining the industrial design for the Radio Buoy, but we’ve attached a few images of a prototype we’ve been playing with.

Prototype Radio Buoy attached to early Trident Prototype
Prototype Radio Buoy attached to early Trident Prototype
Piloting Trident through a WiFi connection to the Radio Buoy
Piloting Trident through a WiFi connection to the Radio Buoy
Radio Buoy being pulled through the water.  It is designed to be stable even in rough seas
Radio Buoy being pulled through the water. It is designed to be stable even in rough seas

One more thing about the buoy! We’ve decided it would be worth it to throw in a little bonus: the Radio Buoy will now come with a built in GPS receiver. This will allow pilots to log the location and the general path of their dives.  The system may even be able to approximate the location of the ROV itself using knowledge of the tether length, depth, and trajectory history. Using computational capabilities built into the wireless router on the buoy, we've also been able to send the GPS data stream directly into the ROV's network connection, so this information will be available in the Cockpit interface just like the telemetry coming from the ROV. Of course, there are many possibilities for other things that can be done with GPS data through software, and we hope developers in our community will enjoy having this extra feature to use for custom control and course planning software. 

On the software side of things there is also a lot of progress to report. We now have native in-browser video recording working so you can record your dive on your computer without any additional software. This recording feature works very well even with the relatively high bandwidth of our HD camera. The video you capture will play back with just as much fidelity and smoothness as when you were watching it live. Additionally, we have a beta version of our live streaming software working which will allow internet-connected users to share their dive with the world as it happens. Here’s a recording we made with a 2-Series OpenROV a few weeks ago while diving on a shipwreck at night. An impressive thing to note about this video is that the recording was done on a computer connected to the ROV through an internet connection hosted by a cell phone.

Finally, we’ve been racing ahead with our mobile/touch screen control interface. In a recent dive at Lake Tahoe, we used our live streaming software to telecast a dive to the TV in our cabin, far away from the dive site, while also controlling the ROV remotely from a mobile phone. We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to drive the ROV using touch controls. We are really excited by how straightforward it will be to do sophisticated deployments with very simple and portable equipment.

Piloting Trident using touch controls on a smartphone (via remote network connection).  Also streaming live video to a flatscreen TV.
Piloting Trident using touch controls on a smartphone (via remote network connection). Also streaming live video to a flatscreen TV.

It’s been an incredible journey. We continue to be amazed and inspired by how many people want to use our design to do incredible things. There has been a lot of push to add additional features to Trident and it takes a tremendous amount of self-control to stay focused on staying the course toward the most solid core design possible that can be delivered on time and on budget. That being said, some of these features (integrated GPS, increased ruggedness, more powerful computational capabilities, sophisticated communication with external payloads, etc.) were just too good to pass up. As a result of the development we’ve been able to do, we’re increasing the retail price of Trident from $1,199 to $1,499 to add these enhanced features to the stock design, and we will be announcing these change in our store very soon. For Kickstarter backers (anyone reading this update), that means you’ll be getting more for what you paid for. All of these new features will be included at no extra cost with Kickstarter orders of Trident. Additionally, we will honor the original $1,199 price for early pre-orders in our webstore until later this summer.

Lastly, we’d like to thank you again for making this project possible. We are thrilled to be delivering a product that we are truly proud of. And we know you will be too.

Unpacking the newest 3D printed Trident Prototype with the OpenROV team
Unpacking the newest 3D printed Trident Prototype with the OpenROV team
Tim Alexander, Dave buzzard, and 37 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Diego Garcia on May 3, 2016

      awesome updates, its being involved in this type of production that really captures for me the amazing value of crowdfunding, thanks so much for the upgrades and im looking forward to seeing the development! if you could touch on some of the scanning or radar experiments or applications it would be a cherry on the cake for me! great work really !

    2. OpenROV 2-time creator on May 3, 2016

      @Luke Hunt - We're excited for you to get your hands on Trident as well! Bathtubs aside, you'd be surprised by how many amazing things are right under our nose. Check out this video some people working with a local high school to build OpenROVs made.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch…

      This is from Lake Merritt right smack dab in the middle of Oakland, CA. You'd have thought one would only find trash in a place like this, but actually it was teaming with some of the most interesting creatures imaginable! We can't wait to see what you (and all our other supporters) find in unexpected places!

      ~Eric

    3. Missing avatar

      Luke Hunt on May 3, 2016

      amazing updates cant wait to get my hands on this, even if all I can do is try out in the bath! lol

    4. OpenROV 2-time creator on May 3, 2016

      @Mark - Don't worry, you don't need an internet connection to use the ROV. Internet access is only needed if you want to live stream your dive for others to see!

    5. Mark on May 2, 2016

      Looks amazing, & the upgrades are looking 1st class. I hope we don't rely on phone network connections for anything important because Australia sux for reception on any water ��

    6. OpenROV 2-time creator on May 1, 2016

      @Everyone - These replies are amazing. It's hard to describe what it feels like for a project that has been a personal obsession for so many years to be coming to life and for it to be so strongly appreciated by others. For our small team, this has been nothing short of magical. All of us are putting everything we have into making something that we feel will change the way discoveries about our world are made. We all believe in the vision. We believe that exploration can be something all of us can be a part of. Thank you for the encouragement. We'll continue onward!

      @Highcooley - Thank your the encouragement as well. The acoustic positioning systems being described on the forums are still in their infancy so there's a lot more work that will need to be done before we are even sure how that sort of system would be integrated. To keep the Radio Buoy small (so it can be easily towed by Trident with minimal drag), extra devices on the surface would probably stay mechanically separate but could potentially talk to the buoy through the WiFi network. For Trident, upward looking payloads could be attached to either a bracket that extends behind the vehicle (that mounting system also works well for heavy payloads), or it may be possible to use the tether mounting screw on the top of the vehicle to hold small intermediate modules mechanically. It's a bit too early to tell (we won't be working on this technology until after Trident has shipped) but of course we'll keep everyone up to date with new thinking as it develops.

      Thanks again for the encouragement!

      ~E

    7. Carl Wern on May 1, 2016

      Great news guys! I am really looking forward to receive the final product I November and to take it for a spin with a pair of oculus rift! Keep up the good work and please keep posting more updates and videos on YouTube!

    8. Highcooley on May 1, 2016

      Wow! Thank you very much for the update und the cool features you added. I am so excited about this ROV becoming the final product. Cool to have GPS on board the buoy. Two questions related to the ROV location tracking: Will the buoy come with some sort of a standard interface connector in order to hook up an ultrasonic location module (like suggested here: https://forum.openrov.com/t/acoustic-location-system/1295/85) which has real time access to the GPS coordinates of the buoy and can send packets through WiFi or the tether? Where would you suggest to mount an ultrasonic location module on the ROV itself? Is there a topside mounting point? Keep your super work up, it is so amazing!

    9. Missing avatar

      Rob on May 1, 2016

      I love that you guys continue to refine and push the design without impacting the anticipated delivery date and I agree the new enhancements are worthy of more cash....but so excited that I get it for the price I paid!!! The privileges of backing a great product and company. I can honestly say that I have not been so excited to receive anything in my 53 years as I am this ROV. This truly will be a game changer for a lot of disciplines.....I am planning my post retirement activities and they all include this vehicle. Besides the fun...I see some $$$ opportunities to fuel my adventures....cant wait.

    10. Missing avatar

      Bruce D. Sidlinger on May 1, 2016

      You guys are on fire! I have been a DJI multirotor customer since the F450 and WooKong through the Phantom 4 and your passion and innovation is comparable. I would love to see another company that amazing!

    11. Geoff on April 30, 2016

      Sweet!
      Can't wait to drive one new my cabin at Lake of the Woods.
      Way to go team!

      Cheers
      Geoff