For Pilots and Aspiring Pilots

Hi All,
I’m looking to start a discussion about piloting (learning, sharing tips and tricks, advice on technique, etc.). While I’ve been a ROV team coach/mentor for several years, I haven’t much experience piloting. Since I joined BR, I have built a fully equipped BlueROV2, practiced in my HOA pool regularly, and I’ve had one dive in the wild of Monterey Bay. I learned that it’s pretty easy to basically control the vehicle, but there’s a lot more to doing it well. I can appreciate the skill that’s required, the finesse, spatial awareness, etc., and I know that I have much to learn. Let me know if you’re interested!


@kurt_bluerobotics We would love to support you with this. Our pilots have extensive experience off shore with work class ROVs but love to fly the BlueROVs when not on shifts!
Working with you, we could produce a basic guide on safe operations, correct control methods and subsea work principals.
Let’s talk.

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Great idea @kurt_bluerobotics . We’ve just got our first BlueROV2 and I’m attempting to put together training materials for those who’ll use it. Can’t help but feel that I’m reinventing wheels in doing this…

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Thanks to you both for your interest. Is it possible to find a basic ROV pilot training course or curriculum outline that we could share with the community? I would use it for myself and also for the students on our MATE competition teams (I’m a coach/mentor).

I’m happy to collaborate with you but, before creating something new, I’d like to see if someone has already created something that we could leverage. Any ideas?

I agree it seems there should be something out there we can use to build on…

Flight simulators are really helpful for learning the coordination needed to fly R/C planes and helicopters. Is there something similar that we could use to practice flying the BlueROV with a controller on a home PC?

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I’ve heard there are some basic ones out there, but I’m still poking around, especially among the competition teams.

Here’s something I found on MATE’s web site regarding the knowledge and skill requirements for ROV pilots.

  • BlueSim and Gazebo (+SITL) are both open source simulation setups that are intended for that purpose
    • The main caveat is that they were released a while ago and the installation instructions haven’t been frequently updated, so getting them running on current operating systems can take some work
      • Providing some decent “simulations” documentation is on my TODO list, but the list is unfortunately rather long…
    • To explain the components:
      • SITL simulates the autopilot, and some very basic physics
      • Gazebo and BlueSim are more advanced physics and operations simulators and provide a first-person interface/video feed, but don’t simulate the autopilot
      • Control station software like QGroundControl allows user input to the running simulation (e.g. from a joystick), and provides a map/missions interface
      • MAVLink inputs can alternatively be from a custom program (e.g. if you want to test a high level control algorithm)
  • Ender Ocean is a game / real life ocean cleanup project that branched off from BlueSim
  • Teleportal allows keyboard control of a BlueROV2 exploring the Australian Great Barrier Reef, and includes a simulation environment for training before doing the real thing

For Ender Ocean, you can check :


@kurt_bluerobotics This is a great initiative. I am happy to support it too.

@EliotBR I have been meaning to setup BlueSim and test. I will take notes and provide feedback.


I checked out Ender Ocean and it’s great!

I downloaded Steam to my Mac with no issues and it fired right up!

It even works with my Xbox controller (most functions). It’s a good simulation of driving the actual BlueROV2.

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Try out Ender Ocean on Steam…I think it’s a pretty good simulation of BlueROV2!

I’m really interested in this…for example, what are some techniques for retrieving objects off the bottom (adjusting ROV pitch, control in pitched orientation, staying off the bottom, avoiding plant life, etc.).

Thanks, Chris! I’m looking for any training materials, curricula, checklists, etc.

Hi Kurt, hope all is going well since the competition. Steve Haggitt of Haggitt Consulting recently put together a pretty comprehensive workshop on ROV navigation skills, which was well documented and with numerous exercises. While not directly applicable to BlueROV2, many pilot skills apply no matter what type/brand of ROV. You can find him on FB or DM me for contact info. Cheers!

Chris, thanks for your message. I’ll connect with Steve.

Kurt, you’re right it would be helpful. A lot of us see the need for more available training. Poseidon has been teaching hands on courses in the pool, but we’ve recently done a few trips up on Monterey for this very purpose; to teach new pilots (customers, researchers, and enthusiasts alike) how to handle the vehicle. This has led us to start putting the vehicle in various situations and capturing video of the session. As we roll these out on YouTube, we’ll keep you posted so other people can find them.

There is a tremendous amount of information about flying, but it’s nearly all on the job training. Having spent years as an ROV pilot and a mountaineer, I like to say it’s analogous to climbing. You can read a book or watch a video on hand placement on or avalanche safety, and it would help, but even if you read every book ever written and watched years of climbing videos, you’d struggle tying in for your first repel. You just need time in the field, preferably with a mentor. I think this is why I have yet to see any good training manuals in all my years flying ROVs.

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Peter, I completely agree there’s no substitute for hands-on training. Some people may have the foundational knowledge already, be naturally talented or take easily to it. Some may benefit from some basic foundational learning, especially for newcomers, like thrust and buoyancy, water pressure, basic electronics, ROV system architecture, basic operation, deck handling, navigation, mission planning, vehicle maintenance. Maybe a list of dos and don’ts (like stay off the bottom). We could look at SCUBA diving certification as a reference.