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New Product - BlueROV2 Full Electronics and Software Upgrade

Hello BlueROV2 users!

Mission Robotics is pleased to introduce a product that takes your existing vehicle and dramatically improves its capabilities. Starting with a clean sheet of paper close to two years ago, we designed an entirely new electronics chassis and software stack that is form-factor compatible with the existing BlueROV2 main tube. Upgrading your vehicle is simply a matter of opening the main tube, removing the existing electronics chassis, sliding in our new chassis, and reattaching the various wires. This modularity allows you to upgrade your ROV within a few hours.

You can learn more about the product on our website, but we wanted to highlight a few things here:

Camera System

  • We have a brand new imager, lens, and ISP combination that provides up to 60fps 1080p video, with 4x the light sensitivity compared to the BlueROV Low Light HD USB Camera.
  • The glass-to-glass latency is less than 130ms, which is significantly better than that of a BlueROV2 using QGroundControl. This noticeably smooths the piloting experience.
  • The H.264 bitrate is controllable up to 48Mbps, meaning you have more detail and fewer compression artifacts in complex scenes like coral reefs and sand.

Electronics and Vehicle Software Replacement

  • Our vehicle software entirely replaces the companion code.
  • The user has access to the full vehicle API. All sensor data, actuator controls, and vehicle functions are made available via DDS publish-subscribe middleware, with first- class support for ROS2 coming. This allows you to easily write new software components and tools that interact with the system, providing a straightforward route to developing features such as autonomous navigation, computer vision applications, and more.
  • The main processor is a NVIDIA Jetson Nano, which has substantially more processing power than the current Raspberry Pi 3B.
  • A next-generation flight controller replaces the Pixhawk 1 used in the current vehicle.
  • A topside power switch allows you to turn your vehicle on and off with a switch, not by opening the battery tube. This is done with your existing tether configuration and a simple modification kit to your existing topside box.
  • There are numerous power and I/O ports available to the user, and over ÂĽ of the tube is open space for user accessories. Need special interfaces for your accessories but don’t want to implement them yourself? We have a number of pre-built modules available or planned, such as an Ethernet switch, RS-232 and RS-485 serial ports, isolated 12V and 24V power, and isolated GPIO (to run ESC signals to a separate tube).
  • ESCs with a digital interface provide motor RPM and current draw telemetry for each T200 thruster, as well as ESC temperature. There are 8 ESCs, to support both the standard and the heavy configuration of the BlueROV 2.
  • Microcontroller Bridge - Struggling to add your own custom sensors or actuators to your current vehicle? With Mission Robotics software, you can develop and debug custom devices using an Arduino (or similar MCU) on your workbench. When you’re ready to deploy them on the vehicle, plug the Arduino into the USB port of the vehicle’s main processor (Jetson Nano), and our software automatically creates a bi-directional communication link between these user-added devices on the vehicle and the topside computer.

Topside Software (Replaces QGroundControl)

  • Hardware acceleration for video decoding and rendering is supported, freeing up CPU resources.
  • All data is recorded together and time-synchronized. Report generation is greatly simplified -no more .MKV to .MP4 file conversions, exporting .tlog files to .csv, and then trying to time-align everything.
    • Built-in playback of your complete dive, exactly as you conducted it.
    • Add markers with the press of a button on your controller, so you can quickly review important events post-dive.
  • Dynamic vehicle/device discovery eliminates static IP addresses and allows for easier setup of more complex network topologies, such as multiple vehicles and multiple computers on the same network.
  • Built-in support for multiple cameras with virtually zero additional latency.

Unfortunately, all this performance does come at a cost. This is a sophisticated product, and we cannot match Blue Robotics’ economies of scale. We are not targeting the casual ROV user with this product- it is intended for professional ROV operators, and for ROV/AUV builders who appreciate the modularity of the Blue Robotics components, but are held back by their existing vehicle software and electronics. The price of the upgrade starts at $7,500 USD and depends upon the exact configuration desired.

We have completed a closed beta of this product, and are now opening up the testing period to the larger community as we finish the documentation and software. If you are looking to take your BlueROV2 or custom ROV to the next level, and are interested in the features described above, please reach out to us.

Email: info@missionrobotics.us

14 Likes

very nice, well done

G’day everyone, I am in the process of commissioning one of these upgrades into service on a BlueROV2 Heavy system down here in Australia.

We purchased this upgrade because we are looking to simplify and expand our field deployments in support of scientific data collection. This upgrade provides us with similar functionality to some of the more expensive alternatives on the market and it allows us to continue using the familiar BlueROV system with all of its flexibility to customise/expand.

Our first impressions have been excellent. The ability to connect the battery in the office and then power up on site is a real benefit…potential issues with sand and other contamination of the seals are now eliminated and there are no more delays on site setting up and waiting for the vacuum test.

We were also experiencing some of the known video glitches using the original BlueROV2 hardware and these are now completely gone. The videos seem much better, latency is very very low and one touch recording is proving to be a big hit. The video files are now easy to transfer and work with.

Although the new topside software is a bit different to QGroundCOntrol, it is easy to use and it was very quick to learn (the guys at Mission Robotics worked around the clock to help get the system up and running).

The drop-in hardware is also very impressive and it was a whole lot easier to install than I remember for the original hardware. The quality is next level so I can now see why it was a bit more expensive!

I am happy to share our ongoing experiences and to reply to enquiries if anyone else is considering a similar upgrade to their BlueROV2 system.

2 Likes

We’ve been asked by several people what the benefits are of having a camera system with good low-light capability.

The principal benefit is that you can operate using natural light in more situations. You can spot objects at longer ranges, beyond the range of the lights. For close-in objects, there is no backscatter from the lights to spoil the imagery.

If you do choose to use the lights, less power will be required to obtain the desired imagery with the camera.

Here’s an example of finding a target in the distance, using natural lighting:

To gather some comparative data, we recently performed a series of dives in Lake Tahoe on a sunken boat in 100m of water. Three different cameras were used, the Blue Robotics HD camera, our standard camera, and our advanced camera. We recorded video using different lighting conditions, including natural light. The two screenshots below show the remarkable difference between the Blue Robotics HD camera and our camera upgrade, under natural light.

BlueROV 2 Low Light HD USB Camera

Mission Robotics Camera Upgrade

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