Thinkhouse

Issue 13

11 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OPENROV

You’ve heard of drones. They really took off (sorry). But who cares about the sky? We’re looking to the ocean. With most of our planet covered in shades of blue, we caught up with the guys at OpenROV, the makers of the underwater drone.


  1. OpenROV are based in Berkeley, California. It came about after owners David Lang and Erik Stafford were looking for gold in an underwater cave in California and they started building a robot in their garage that could help them explore more. They didn’t find gold, but they struck gold in a entirely different way. They put their idea on Kickstarter and the rest is history.
  2. Their newest model, the Trident, can reach depths of 100 meters, something few divers are able to do.
  3. It’s open source, meaning they publish and share all their design files and code online, allowing anyone to modify it as they see fit. They also sell DIY kits so you can build your own Trident.
  4. Built with mostly off the shelf parts, but also with injected moulded plastic that they specifically designed, it is 1,000 times cheaper than the cameras James Cameron used to explore the Titanic.
  5. It has a light, a beautiful camera and a thin tether that allows you to control and drive it from the surface.
  6. Their plan is to open up the underwater world for people to explore. That’s been the goal since it started.
  7. They are not looking to replace human divers. Because it is fast and can go deeper, divers use OpenROVs for safety to check if the dive spot is good. In fact, divers are some of their biggest customers.
  8. They care a lot about making sure the ocean is respected. The guys make sure the Trident isn’t impacting the environment negatively. In their experience, marine life is curious about the Trident. Fish will swim right up to it and it doesn’t bother them because it is really quiet. No bubbles, no noise. It is essentially a fish with a camera. It is a less invasive way of exploring. The tether makes it hard to lose the device. When you think of the hard global problems that oceans are facing, the biggest problem is that not enough people care. This tool is designed to battle against that. This is starting to solve the biggest problem of all which is humans not being aware of their impact on the ocean. Extensive testing went in to the materials used so that it wouldn’t negatively impact the ocean.
  9. It’s battery based and can stay down for up to four hours.
  10. OpenROV has been used in a lot of documentaries. Some famous directors are using them right now. However, they are more interested in the micro documentaries that the users are telling.
  11. OpenROV is so dedicated to showing the best of their users that they have created a community where people are encouraged to show their own micro documentaries that they shot using the Trident. Check out https://openexplorer.com/home

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