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Meet Scubo: the ridiculously agile robotic sub that’s helping scientists explore the ocean

team from ETH Zurich has created a 55 pound, Arduino-powered miniature submersible robot loaded up with an impressive six webcams for exploring the deep blue sea — and its name is Scubo.

“Our robot is made for people generally interested in the underwater world as well as for marine scientists interested in organisms living around coral reefs,” Traffelet Leonie, one of its Scubo’s creators, told Digital Trends

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In addition to the aforementioned high-def webcams, the waterproof robot allows its human users to link up a VR headset to take a virtual reality dive beneath the waves: perfect for a bit of marine wildlife-spotting without getting your hair wet in the process. On top of that, Scubo is also modular, meaning that you can attach additional sensors and lights to it via five universal ports, provided that these are kept in waterproof housing.

The resulting robot is suited both for entertainment and for serious tasks — which might include generating geographical maps of the ocean floor, inspecting the bottom of boats, or examining coral reefs for marine research.

On the technical side, the buoyant Scubo features an impressive eight thrusters, allowing it to travel in any direction, plus a handy cooling system, sensors for monitoring pressure and potential leaks, an Intel NUC for calculation, and Arduino Due for processing real-time tasks. “We decided to use Arduino since it is very straightforward in its use,” continues Leonie. “Furthermore, the programming interface and the large community behind it gave us a solid base for our work.”

Scubo is controlled via a linked computer, where it can be steered using a SpaceMouse joystick. Battery life currently stands at 120 minutes under standard conditions without recharging. However, this can be extended by the use of a tether, connecting the robot to a computer and power source — which also makes it possible to view pictures live.

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