Underwater Surveillance Robot
Remotely operated underwater vehicles are used in a variety of industries for maintenance and transport, surveillance and inspection, and research and data collection. They allow for a more convenient and flexible option as compared to human dive teams, and can often be cheaper as well. The goal of this project was to create a small and agile underwater robot that would be specialized to operate in the fields of surveillance and inspection. The chief stakeholders in the project were identified as municipalities monitoring their underwater infrastructure, aquaculturalists monitoring their fish colonies and net integrity, and ships at sea inspecting their hull integrity. The system was designed to be operated directly by a user through radio frequency remote-control. The control signals would be sent to a receiver located in a buoy that would float on the surface of the water. This buoy, which contains the batteries for the system as well as a WiFi chip to relay the camera feed, was connected to the main chassis underwater through a 10ft-long custom cable tether that delivers power and the control signals to the main chassis. The main chassis was constructed centered on a section of recycled 3” PVC pipe. One end was sealed with a resealable twist-off portal for access to the inside components, and the other end was sealed with a transparent polycarbonate for the camera to see out of. The motors were attached in a two-vertical, two-horizontal orientation and custom propellors were designed and 3D-printed in opposing orientations for port and starboard side to prevent torque roll of the vehicle. The control Arduino and motor controllers were sealed inside the vehicle and the exit portals for the tether cable and the motor wires were sealed with epoxy resin. The robot met all established goals for the project, including full 3D movement (up/down, forward/backwards, yaw control), a 15-minute battery life, 1.0m/s forward drive and 0.5m/s upwards drive, a 10ft operating depth, relatively neutral buoyancy, and consistent user control without interference. The robot shows a proof-of-concept for a radio frequency remote controlled underwater vehicle, further iteration and research could yield a more effective product for stakeholders.