PSC takes OpenROVs to Guadeloupe

March 15 2017

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Polk State College students are going to take OpenROVs to Guadeloupe during the Fall 2017 semester. We'll be designing bigger, more varied payloads than we've ever done before. Naturally, this means we'll also be spreading our unabashed enthusiasm for the OpenROV platform.

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March 15 2017

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Preparation Stage

The 2.8 OpenROV we're building for the trip is now partially assembled. We also tested the big PVC Niskin bottle and found out that it holds a little over four liters. I'm going to modify the trigger assembly and use tapered pins made of metal. The wooden dowels were swelling when wet, and it took a fair bit of force to pull them....more than I'd want to ask of a servo.

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Expedition Background

In the last three semesters, faculty at Polk State College have used 2.8 OpenROVs to collect water samples in some of our Oceanography, Environmental Science and Biology classes. We expect this to become more common as additional faculty in these subjects become familiar with their use. Students at PSC’s affiliated collegiate high school have built OpenROVs which they’ve demonstrated to both STEM and business audiences.


We are just getting started; the program is being expanded to involve additional classes, more students, and to do so in more places. There will be a focus on other areas of science and exploration, such as environmental productivity and the impacts of contamination. Our upcoming Fall 2017 trip to Guadeloupe will combine the excitement of travel - for many of our students, this will be the first time they have left Florida - with citizen science. Participants will be able to pilot the ROVs and also utilize the new ROV payloads that we are developing.

We have been asked if our OpenROVs are capable of collecting water samples large enough to isolate eDNA. Our current efforts – due to the bigger water samples needed for eDNA – are focused on building larger Niskin bottles and a sampling sled to carry them. The new Trident models appear to be better suited to towing equipment than the 2.8 ROVs that we are currently using.

Faculty in Guadeloupe have also expressed an interest in using ROVs to sample sediment and deposit equipment on the sea floor. These goals will be met by designing a variety of interchangeable payloads, while also attempting to ensure that they can be constructed using a minimal set of basic tools. We’ll demonstrate that micro-ROVs are not toys and can be legitimate research tools.

The OpenROV platform is particularly useful because it engages our students. The majority of them are not SCUBA certified. For many, flying an OpenROV may be the only way they will ever see below the water. Without the ROVs, these students’ sampling had been restricted to either the surface, or blind collection at depth. Now they can investigate beyond the water’s surface, collect samples, and do so without expensive equipment and training.

Piloting an ROV allows them a chance to experience aquatic life in real time and feel a connection to some of the things they have heard about in their course work. This gets them excited about STEM while increasing awareness of the natural world and the challenges to maintaining its health. We hope this will create a new generation of ocean advocates.

We are thankful for this opportunity to apply for the gift of an OpenROV Trident, and for the support you have shown for our prior efforts. Your leadership in the industry and enthusiasm for our work is greatly appreciated. We hope to be able to use the Trident in in ways that will make your company proud.

We might possibly help. We live on our 44' catamaran sailboat in the Eastern Caribbean during November to April each year. Can you see a way we might be of assistance in your project?

Wow, that would be great. We're planning to be there around Thanksgiving break. Does that fit in with your plans?