The engineers at Blue Robotics have strong motivation for marine projects and we often design some things in our free time. Sometimes they lead to new projects and sometimes they don’t. Its fun to tinker around and push capability/cost boundaries.
I like working on vehicle systems and I have done my share of ROVs and surface vehicles. Now, both types are made by a few companies. The last vehicle outside that capability/cost boundary is the Autonomous Undwerwater Vehicle (AUV).
There are a few manufacturers of micro-AUVs out there, but the cost is a bit absurd for even the base models: Bluefin Sandshark ($30,000), Riptide AUV ($15,000), NemoSens AUVs (?), and there’s more. This has kept them out of the range of hobbyists. I also could never get the only other AUV control system that I know of to work: MOOS-IvP
I am also not totally in agreement that control surfaces on these micro-AUVs are a good thing for keeping a level keel for side scan or photography work:
Years ago before there was an ArduSub, I started a thread on DiyDrones trying to figure out what would be needed. (AUV Development with the EKF) The consensus came down to needing a new firmware, a method for underwater telemetry, and a method for underwater navigation.
Fortunately, with upcoming M64 Modem, the S1 Locator, and the Ping, technology may have caught up to the point where AUVs for hobbyists may be possible in the near future. Driving around a BlueROV2 with an early version of their modem is certainly encouraging:
Pending the software and firmware work, I thought an ArduSub compatible AUV hull would be in order, so I started working on one based off a 6" WTE that would use thrusters instead of control surfaces.
The files aren’t complete but everyone is welcome to take a look and download them. 6" AUV Hull files OnShape I’ll continue to work on them in my free time and hopefully get around to printing a hull in a few weeks.
Right now, it uses the following:
1x 6" WTE with 2x 15-hole endcaps
The intent is to have a 3D printable reference frame AUV by the time either the Water Linked system works for short range ArduSub AUVs or somebody comes up with a DVL. Optical flow may also be a possibility for really clear water.