Shoot your own ‘Shark Week’ with this $850 underwater ‘drone’

openrov underwater drone

For us land dwellers, what happens beneath the waves is the kind of mystery only aquariums and the Discovery Channel can reveal – until now.

Meet OpenROV, a remotely-controlled mini-submarine that at $850 will cost you less that a (fully decked-out) iPad Air, and allows you to navigate the depths from the comfort of a boat. More than just a robotic submarine, OpenROV is a fully open-source “DIY” device that’s built and improved upon by a community of users. All the software, CAD files of its design, and more are posted online for users to tweak as they see fit.

OpenROV creators Eric Stackpole and David Lang, who raised money for the project through Kickstarter, say they created the gizmo as a way to allow anyone to explore the oceans in ways that usually require multi-million dollar grants (or cable TV production budgets) and teams of people.

“If you think about ocean exploration right now, it’s something that a lot of people think, ‘Oh, well, you know, what that’s something that professional scientists do, that National Geographic explorers do. That’s not something that I get to do,’ ” Lang told CNN. But Lang and Stackpole say OpenROV is their way of “trying to instill back in everyone” a sense that the oceans are theirs to explore, too.

Technically speaking, OpenROV is not really a drone because you must constantly control where it goes, making it more akin to an aquatic RC car than a unmanned areal vehicle, which flies according to pre-program coordinates. But whatever – underwater drone sound much cooler than underwater “remotely operated vehicle,” which is what the whole “ROV” in its name stands for.

The OpenROV v2.5 kit comes with everything you need to build your own ocean explorer, including an HD video camera, batteries, wire tether, and the user interface that you access via your Web browser. Buyers can also choose to purchase just the shell of the device, which can be packed with other components.

Check out a video of the OpenROV in action:

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