Low cost underwater drone

Tue, 08 November 2016

The cost of exploring underwater can be high which is why the founders of Fathom set out to design a drone system that would allow cheaper access to the world below the surface.

The Fathom One drone is a low cost unit that allows access to the underwater world without breaking the bank and the makers claim that it can more than halve the cost of underwater examination and exploration.

The main body of the Fathom drone is constructed from moulded plastic that allows it to operate at pressures down to 50 metres. Three thrusters are attached to the main body and these are attached via a patent pending modular system that allows the thrusters to be easily removable allowing the operation of the drone to be customised to suit the operating requirements and to extend the battery life.

The drone features an integrated rail system on the bottom of the device that makes it a very simple operation to attach cameras, additional lights or other sensors to the drone. In its standard form the drone is fitted with built in high-intensity LED lights and a high resolution camera. The drone can operate to a maximum depth of 50 metres and it can operate at a forward speed of 3 knots.

The Fathom One is connected via an umbilical wire that transmits all the control instructions and also allows both still and video pictures to be returned to the surface. The umbilical also provides a safety feature allowing the drone to be recovered manually in the event of the battery running out or other failure. Depending on the use the battery can last for one hour with normal operation. The normal control of the Fathom One is via an App but a physical controller is also available.

To allow for operating the drone at an extended range the Fathom team is designing a WiFi buoy that can transmit up to 100 feet away to any smart device. To use this system, the drone is connected to the buoy and then connection between the buoy and the controller is done wirelessly on any Android or IOS device.

The makers claim that the low cost of this drone unit means that it can be a part of the normal equipment of any vessel allowing inspection of the underwater parts of the vessel without the need for diving equipment. In the survey and inspection sector the drone could have a much wider application allowing low cost inspections of harbour installations and on many offshore structures in shallower waters to detect scouring and corrosion. It can also be used for preliminary wreck inspection and on search and rescue operations.

Source: Dag Pike;

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