One of the objectives of the Tahina Expedition is to explore the undersea world and marine life. We will of course snorkel and scuba dive and use underwater cameras and video. But, scuba diving involves a lot of work, equipment, and careful safety precautions and is less practical to do every day with only two of us on board. Of course, the ultimate solution would be to have our own underwater submarine, but our boat isn’t big enough to carry a multi-ton submarine.
A year ago I discovered a really cool company that makes a product that seemed perfect for our needs. This product is an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV), but it’s not a really big one like you may have seen on TV in the past. This one is classified as a “Micro-ROV” – and is only about the size of a small backpack. The ROV is loaded with gadgets including video cameras, motors for maneuvering, and a grappling device (or “hand”) to pick things up. You use a control panel up on the surface with computer display, switches, and joystick controls, and you can even use an X-box wireless controller for driving the ROV. For a gadget loving geek, who also loves the water, you really can’t find something much better than this – an underwater robot! After watching a couple of videos of this thing in action, I decided I HAD to have one for our trip!
The company is called VideoRay (http://www.VideoRay.com) and their devices are used in a wide range of applications from marine research to crime scene investigations, from ship inspections to TV documentaries. The oil and gas industry use them to make inpsections in situations which would be hazardous to divers. They are even used for tourism to show people shipwrecks! Last fall I attended a VideoRay conference of users of the devices and was amazed at the innovative things people had added to their ROVs including stereoscopic cameras, sonar, 3D tracking, and more. And, there were all kinds of entrepreneurial applications of the ROVs as well.
So, last summer I made a presentation about the Tahina Expedition to VideoRay, and discussed several ways we could use their ROV to help generate underwater video content to share with the world. More importantly, we could add the content to our Google Earth layer so people can see geotagged videos of various underwater sights including coral reefs, sea life (fish, dolphins, whales, sharks and more), shipwrecks, and who knows what else? VideoRay was very supportive of the Tahina Expedition’s goals, and we worked out a deal where the Tahina Expedition will be able to use one of their ROVs during our trip!
It is my great pleasure to welcome our newest partner for the Tahina Expedition: VideoRay. They are a great company with a really amazing product. If you have any need for an underwater video capability or un-manned underwater applications these are the guys to contact.
Even better news for the Tahina Expedition: a VideoRay ROV is being delivered to Tahina right now! Expect a post soon showing the delivery of our new ROV, which I plan to call Rover. 🙂