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Using tracks instead of thrusters?

Hello all! I’ve been a long time lurker and enjoy this community of ROV enthusiasts. I would like some advice regarding using two tracks instead of the thrusters and having them operate in a skid steer setup. My build will basically be a simple pipe crawler with a depth rating of 50m. I will be using two 12vdc planetary gear motors for driving the two 2inch wide tracks.

This ROV will basically be a Blue Robotics acrylic electronics enclosure mounted between the two tracks and would need a continuous rotation camera in the front dome cap. I am still trying to figure out how to waterproof the planetary drives (oil bath shaft seals?).

This will not be used in salt water and will not be completely submerged each use. A Blue Robotics tether will be used and I’d like to eventually incorporate a ft/m counter on the tether reel or use the feedback from the motor encoders but I’m a complete newbie to programming and coding. I’d like this to be simple but my brain is always searching for new ideas in this field of technology.

I have been in the tank and underwater infrastructure field for 7 years, being a commercial diver for 5 of those years. I have owned a Deep Trekker DTG2 Worker ROV for almost 3 years now with 116 hours on it’s clock and it is a workhorse for inspections but I am looking to build a crawler this time to learn more about these systems. If I can figure out the communication protocol Deep Trekker uses I’d like to incorporate the Lumen Subsea lights as auxiliaries on the DTG2 (already have a bung pre-installed for aux light/camera) or maybe use the manipulator claw’s power/signal port.

For topside control I’d assume I can stick with the Blue Robotics topside hardware just like you’d use for the ROVs. I would need at least 200m tether in case that’s a problem for the video link or communication protocol.

I welcome all advice and criticism. I will definitely be purchasing the new BlueROV2 in the next year. It looks like just what I’ve been searching for on my next submersible system!


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That sounds fine. I suggest using the ArduRover firmware for the vehicle instead of ArduSub.

In my opinion, this will be more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe they will just tell you how their system works like we do :). Let us know how you make out!

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Thank you for the feedback Jacob!

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Hi Adam, which tracks will you be using for your ROV?


I do not know because there is nothing readily available as a complete ready to run kit that I could find. I could use crawler wheels too but those look way too expensive ~$900-$1200 for 4 wheels! Now I’m aware that INUKTUN makes the MiniTrac and MicroTrac systems but there again is the high cost (must inquire about prices on their website which usually means too expensive for my budget). Now that the T200 thrusters are in production, any chance BR could look into self-contained modular track systems that would be depth rated to at least one atmosphere? Any references to similar units?


And the Spectrum camera system standard on a lot of crawlers.
Spectrum 45

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Check this company out for tracks…