This Raspberry Pi-powered submarine ROV safely explores the depths

BlueROV2 is an underwater ROV that surveys the darkest depths — well, the really very gloomy depths anyway — with the help of a Raspberry Pi 4 wearing its bespoke Navigator Flight Controller as a HAT.

What is an underwater ROV?

If you’re not sure what an underwater ROV is, the short answer is: a remotely operated vehicle you chuck in the sea. But if you’re my favourite kind of geek and wish to feast on a much longer answer, Blue Robotics has shared a short history and explanation of how they work, including the excellent tidbit that the first ever ROV was called the Poodle.

BlueROV2 is billed as “the world’s most affordable high-performance underwater ROV.” While $3,950 seems like a lot, this ROV buying guide quotes prices up to $40,000. We like to think our affordable Raspberry Pi brain had a lot to do with bringing that cost down.

What’s it made of?

The device measures 18 x 13.3 x 10 inches and can capture live 1080p HD video, thanks to a wide-angle low-light camera mounted to a tilt mechanism on the front. An onboard gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer, along with pressure, depth, temperature, voltage, and leak detection sensors, make sure everything is functioning and navigating as it should.

If you choose an ROV with an acrylic enclosure, you can get to a depth of 100 meters, but splash out on the aluminium option and you’re safe to dive up to 300 meters. As far as I can tell, that’s deep enough to explore right down to the sea bed over most of the North Sea and almost all of the Irish Sea. Feel free to Google other bodies of water yourself.

What does the Raspberry Pi do?

The BlueROV2 is controlled by the Navigator Flight Controller, which is a HAT designed for Raspberry Pi 4. The Raspberry Pi runs Blue Robotics’ bespoke BlueOS software and handles all of the processing and computing requirements inside the ROV.

All of those sensors listed a few paragraphs up are provided by the Navigator, and the Raspberry Pi communicates what’s happening back to base on dry land via BlueOS.

While I do think BlueROV2 is cool and all, I’m still too traumatised by the shark chase at the beginning of The Little Mermaid to watch any of the video it captures.

Jump to the comment form

W. H. Heydt avatar

300 meters is fairly impressive for such a device. However, that wouldn’t get to the bottom of Lake Tahoe in California (something over 450M deep). The 100 meter version wouldn’t–quite–make it to the bottom of water under the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, though the currents there would probably be a bigger problem.

Reply to W. H. Heydt

Filip avatar

Oh it would get there. Though probably wouldn’t get back on the surface again.

Reply to Filip

Leave a Comment