Underwater drone opens oceanic exploration to everybody

A company has built a new drone that can go where divers cannot.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A new drone is causing waves. This one takes you to depths scuba divers can't reach and makes explorers of us all.

Trident is an underwater drone that travels with the ease of one above land and is making a splash in the underwater world of exploration and recreation. The drone has been 4 years in the making  by David Lang and Eric Stockpile of OpenROV. They developed the drone with the help of a kickstarter campaign.

In a kickstarter video Land says, “It flies like an airplane … it speeds along, it can bank it can dive.”

“I think it’s fascinating piece of technology,” says Mike Westmakr a scuba diving instructor in Sarasota.

Westmark sees many uses for the underwater drone. He says, “It could go places a diver shouldn’t or couldn’t fit.”

Trident is tethered to a thin cord and a wireless connected buoy allowing one to control it from any wireless device like a tablet or cellphone. The drone travels 100 yards -- the length of a football field. “With scuba diving you plan your dive and you dive your plan. This is a great tool for helping to plan your dive,” says Westmark.

 Stockpile says in the company’s video, “At OpenROV we believe exploration is not just about gathering data but exploring new worlds in new ways.”

The drone opens underwater exploration to everybody so they become citizen scientists.

Westmark says the technology also opens the underwater world to people who for a variety of reasons can’t dive into it. “Also people who physiologically can’t get into the water due to anxiety,” says Westmark.

Starting at around $950, the drone is low-cost, easy do-it-yourself, accessible technology portable enough to take as carry-on luggage. It’s been used to explore under the ice in Antarctica. Trident has gone to Mount Everest and into one of the highest altitude lakes in the world and explored a wrecked steamship deep in Lake Tahoe.

 “The size blew me away, too,” says Westmark. He adds, “I want one … I want two!”

The drone can be used to do mapping, create 3-D imaging and can be modified by the user to fit their needs.

The kickstarter campaign comes with rewards based on the donation amount.

 


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