Underwater Robots - Celebrating Six Years of Exploring
Sam Macdonald | July 27, 2017
Deep Trekker celebrates 6 years developing underwater robots for various industries across the world. Reflecting back on our past adventures with our ROVs.
Today we are celebrating six years since our very first mini remotely operated vehicle left the doors of our Deep Trekker shop. Since that fateful day when Jeff wrapped up the DTG2 box and sent it to a fish farm in Norway, so many unique and important work has been done with Deep Trekker robots.
Our beginnings were humble, we were boaters looking to provide a way for anyone in the world to explore underwater. We needed this robot to work in harsh environments and to be easiest enough to deploy off our small boat, without any additional topside boxes, power, or training.
We started hoping we could make a difference in the underwater world, by giving eyes to the world below. From ocean activists to historical missions, sophisticated systems and more – Deep Trekker has rapidly grown from that robot to use off the back of our boat to being underwater drones that have traveled the world to explore and investigate some pretty interesting areas.
History of Deep Trekker Underwater Robots
1. Our first trade show, the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show
Trade shows are essential to Deep Trekker, there is no better way to explain how the unique pitching system works than in our 200-gallon water tank. We do 25 trade shows a year, but we never forget our first, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Seeing people’s faces light up when they thought of all the dive sites they could see, the fish they could find and the repairs they could investigate on their hull was an exhilarating feeling.
2. Our first shipwreck – the Niagara
We are boaters and shipwreck junkies at heart, and we are fortunate enough to live in the center of the Great Lakes, in Ontario Canada. It is here where our imagination was first sparked to explore these thousands of shipwrecks this area has to offer. That fateful day, with the original prototype of the DTG2 ROV, we found the Niagara. That initial rush of ‘ah-ha! I found it’ still gets me every time our robot lands on the deck of a wreck.
3. Chile Aquaculture
Our beginnings were born in the Norwegian aquaculture market, which quickly expanded into the Chilean market as well. It is here where our largest training program takes place to educate the working class on how to operate ROVs and successfully gain experience and employment at an aquaculture farm. These people spend every day working with the Deep Trekker underwater drones to constantly be inspecting the nets, pens, and fish health.
4. Bringing robotics and exploration to students
Accessible subsea exploration is just the beginning, students around the world have been actively working with Deep Trekker ROVs to see how robotics are being used in the real world. Some of these students have taken Deep Trekker as far as Palau and the Arctic for important environmental research. Organizations such as the Ocean Institute in California have a full robotics program for young students to build their own ROV and learn to fly the Deep Trekker in their demonstration tank.
5. Historical Wrecks, USS Arizona
A Deep Trekker customer, Etrac with gracious enough to invite the Deep Trekker team to aid in his investigation of the USS Arizona, a sunk battleship from Pearl Harbor. This humbling experience was able to give insight into the integrity of this ship as it lays on the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii. While we were investigating the internal captain's room, one of the last survivors from the ship was able to sit beside us and watch the live video be transmitted from below.
6. Abalone Farm
Traveling to South Africa, our underwater ROVs and Pipe Crawlers had the unique experience of inspecting an abalone farm. These marine snails are delicacies, consumed raw, similar to an oyster and use a recirculating system to bring in water from the ocean to ranch this species over their lifetime. The DT340 Pipe Crawler entered the ocean intake pipe to perform a thorough inspection, while the DTG2 ROV was used to swim inside their reservoir tanks to search for marine growth build up -- talk about a winning team!
7. Multibeam Sonar to find Wilma Shipwreck
The Deep Trekker underwater robots have expanded to be a platform for sophisticated systems such as positioning, single and multibeam sonars. These systems completely transform ROV operations, with accurate positioning information and abilities to navigate and find targets in the no-visibility waters that ROVs are often working in. We had the opportunity to work directly with the manufacturers of the Gemini multibeam sonar, Tritech to locate a shipwreck using only sonar imaging (no camera!) and then get close enough to see with the internal HD camera this beauty lying at the bottom of Lake Erie.
8. Getting Magnetized - Expanding the Lineup of Underwater Robots
Working with our customers to provide the best solution for their project has led us to develop our new Utility Crawler. This multifaceted product can be magnetic to crawl along the sides of ship hulls without worrying about current, or even the sides of penstocks, tanks or other ferrous materials. We love developing new products because it means we get to be in-field seeing their day-to-day operations and making changes on the fly. We cannot be more excited about the release of the Utility Crawler, both while magnetic wheels or rubber wheels, with application specific add-ons such as vacuums, pressure washers, and thickness gauges.
9. Clipperton Expedition
Talk about some interesting places, the team at N2Pix have just returned from the Clipperton atoll, also known as Ile de la Passion, a French Overseas Territory. The atoll is considered to be the most isolated atoll on the planet. A special authorization is even required to set foot on the atoll as well as to enter a 12- nautical-mile zone around it. Geared with a Deep Trekker ROV, the crew journeyed to the atoll to complete critical environmental research and shark tagging. Their work is even going to be featured on Shark Week!
Be sure to be watching Daily Planet tonight, Thursday the 29th between 7 and 8 pm (ET)!From that first shipment, to still the ones that leave our doors daily, the people that use Deep Trekker underwater robots have made us who we are today. Every day, we hear of a new use case for our products, the future holds many more new and exciting experiences. Thank you for making these past six years so memorable, successful and fun.
What are some of your favorite underwater discoveries?
To find out more about Deep Trekker's lineup of underwater robots, contact us >
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