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Users can control this underwater drone from the other side of the world

Joseph Flaig

The Aquabotix Endura NRG underwater vehicle (Credit: Aquabotix)
The Aquabotix Endura NRG underwater vehicle (Credit: Aquabotix)

New remote-control technology for operating underwater vehicles from the other side of the world could slash subsea mission costs, an expert has claimed.

This week, US technology firm Aquabotix released their Live Remote Control software, which can operate their range of underwater drones from anywhere in the world. People could operate the inspection vehicles from laptops and even phone browsers, the company claimed.

Users control the vehicles via the internet through a system of relay stations, which are closer to the drones. The technology, which might be used by operators for remote inspections of oil rigs or wind farms, could see a vast range of applications, said Robert Garbett, founder and CEO of Drone Major Group, which promotes and links companies using drones worldwide.

“Let’s use David Attenborough as a great example,” said Garbett to Professional Engineering, referring to the BBC’s new Blue Planet II series. “You no longer need a dedicated team of drone operators and data analysts on board that vessel, riding up and down on the waves in the Atlantic for weeks, at huge expense to the BBC. What you do is you just hire a fishing vessel to drop it off the side and have a certain box on the vessel and they can do it all from the UK, which means we can now explore more of the sea for a much-reduced cost.”

The remote-control system is similar to intercontinental military control of aerial drones, said Aquabotix, who claimed their technology could be useful in many businesses, research centres and security forces, as well as applications like monitoring fish farms.

“Having our customers operate unmanned systems underwater in a live, immediate fashion, from anywhere in the world, is a game-changer for the underwater robotics industry,” said Aquabotix CEO Durval Tavares. “Advances in underwater unmanned systems typically lag those in the aerial domain by several years. Aquabotix is proud that the smart computing power of its vehicles enables the company to achieve innovations like these, which are at the forefront of advances in the industry.”

Driving underwater vehicles through web browsers “previously seemed impossible,” said chief development officer Ted Curley. “Live Remote Control now changes the timeline for how underwater processes can be accomplished both on land and under the sea.”

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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