40 observations in 11 expeditions

Recent Observations

Now that we have a clearer idea of the seafloor, ready to launch Trident and visually survey the mystery target!

Target acquired! We made 10 transects on the coordinates of our mystery target, the sonar images helping us build a better image of what we might find with each pass. The first transects showed a blob-like mass, while later passes revealed a peak-like protrusion from the seafloor--and finally, an incredible image of a long, narrow object resting 30m (60ft) on the seafloor. Check out the mystery target to the left of the center column (the sonar's blind spot).

En Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur construimos un OpenROV con ayuda de alumnos de Ing. Electromecanica del Instituto Tecnologico Superior De Mulege (ITESME) con la finalidad de explorar las profundidades del hermoso Mar de Cortes. In Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, we built an OpenROV with students of the Electromechanic Engineering Institute of Mulege (ITESME) to explore the depths of the beautiful Sea of Cortez.

Despues de la prueba en agua dulce, fuimos al estero para probar . Funcionó perfectamente hasta 30 metros, pero luego los motores se detuvieron. Estaban llenos de arena muy rara, probablemente metalicas, pero los motores funcionaron despues de un tratamiento de WD-40: afloja todo. Exito! Gracias a todos por su participacion en este proyecto que salio excelente!

Para nuestro primera prueba en agua dulce, la OpenROV funciono perfectamente! Probamos las luces, lasers, motores y tambien realizamos desafios de juguetes para los pilotos.

para mi fue una experiencia muy bonita, aprendi como armas un robot que se sumerja bajo el agua , me deja un buen aprendizaje ya que los instructores fueron de mucha ayuda y supieron atendernos de la mejor manera posible espero que muy pronto los tengamos de vuelta por aqui con un nuevo proyecto para la institucion, muchas gracias por darnos la oportunidad de aprender mas y avanzar en nuestro futuro como ingenieros. Javier Zavalza , electromecanica septimo semestre.

Fue una experiencia muy buena, ya que aprendimos muchas cosas, como circuitos electronicos, como soldar, diferentes tipos de interconexiones o puertos de comunicacion, como arduinos, beaglebone, en general fue algo muy interesante poder armar el ROV. Felix Guadalupe Lopez Meza - Ing. Electromecanica - 5to semestre.


poder armar este robot paso a paso es muy interesante y una oportunidad que pocas veces se tiene, y sin duda poco igualable, gracias a Samanta y Dominic que nos apoyaron pudimos armar nuestro propio OpenRov desde el inicio, a traves de este proyecto pudimos convivir y compartir ideas con los demas companeros de distintos semestres, observar como el pequeno robot que nosotros mismo armamos fue algo sin duda muy emocionante, ya que todo el trabajo empleado sirvio a la perfeccion Fernando Tamayo F. Pd: I like one a OpenRov!:)

Realizar este proyecto, fue una de las experiencias mas impresionantes de mi vida, gracias a esto expandi mas mis conocimientos y a su vez cree mejores vinculos tanto con mis companeros de clases como con los colegas de otros semestres. Comprendi la importancia de llevar a cabo los pasos adecuados para la realizacion de algun futuro proyecto y obtuve la satisfaccion de ver que algo realizador por nosotros funcionara de la manera correcta. Maria Consuelo Real Lopez, 5to. semestre - Electromecanica.

We've encountered life in the depths near the wreck! Any ichthyologists out there who can identify this fish seen resting on the lakebed? Explore with us: twitch.tv/openrov

We're about to dive again to the SS Tahoe! Lots of excitement in Mission Control afer a successful morning dive. Goals for the second dive include a flyover from the stern, inspecting the bow, and taking a closer look at the trough that this steamship dug as she slid down to her final resting place. See what we're seeing and help us take notes at twitch.tv/openrov!

First dive of this year's expedition was incredibly successful, with an hour and a half spent exploring the wreck at 140m. Appearing out of the darkness, our first glimpses of the SS Tahoe were stunning, from the iconic bow to the well-preserved stern. Check out viewer screenshots on Twitter and Facebook with #TahoeDeep!

Intrigued, we decided to survey the outside of the wreck, following the ship from the bow to the stern along the port side. Despite rocky substrate and shallow water, navigating out to the ship wasn't a problem, and we quickly got visuals of thick layers of mussels and barnacles encrusting the rusty hull. Found it! Maintaining depth was a different story though—as soon as we tried to dive to get a better look at deeper levels of critters and rust formations, the OpenROV would start to be sucked under the ship, pulled by a surprisingly whipping current flowing beneath the wreck. With camera issues popping up and a rental jeep to return, we headed back to shore, packing up OpenWeon for its next adventures!

Driving down the coast past downtown Punta Arenas, with its cruise ship port and new casino, we were surprised how quickly the newly cobblestoned streets and artificially artisanal craft stores gave way to a jagged, rocky coastline dotted with wrecks. The Lord Lonsdale was the most notable, it's enormous prow jutting forward, ribs sticking out behind, beached perpendicular to the coast. The Lord Lonsdale was a big ole British frigate, built in 1889 in the Irish shipyard of Londonderry. With three masts and a steel mask prow, it weighed 1,865 tons. While transiting from Hamburg, Germany to Mazatlan, Mexico in 1909, the ship caught fire in Port Stanley, Malvinas Islands and was beached to extinguish the fire. The next year, it was purchased by a Punta Arenas merchant and sold to a wool company to use as a wool transport pontoon. Reports vary, but it sounds like it eventually was beached again south of Punta Arenas, where it remains. Its remains were declared a historical monument in 1974, as a “tribute to sailors of all nationalities that sailed the Magellan seas, created knowledge and made colonization of the region possible.” Little was found on the interwebs about the eponymous Lord Lonsdale. From my brief research, the title had two iterations in the late 1700s and early 1800s, after the bloodline of lords (mostly unnotable politicians and landdowners) ended and had to be revived. The Wikipedia article was a Who's Who of Viscounts, Earls and Barons of Baronies. But back to the ship!

Several lessons were learned from this seemingly easy lake dive: 1) Have someone standing by when for your robot tether gets tangled. The water was cold. There were literally glaciers trickling into the lake. But someone's got to go get the robot when it gets tangled (for the forth time) by hidden sticks in even the most innocent-looking lake. 2) Make sure your endcaps are fully-sealed. Like, really sealed. I thought we did a pretty good job welding the acrylic layers of the brains/electronics tube together, but I'm still finding extra-fine sand in them. 3) Don't forget to bring your OpenROV beanie. See #1. Wherever you're going, you might have to dive in to rescue your robot and it may be cold. Glacially cold. (Special shout-out to Dominik). Plus, the beanies look cool and random people who want to drive the robot will also want to wear one.

Driving along the Carretera Austral, a breathtakingly scenic dirt/gravel/washboard road connecting most of Chilean Patagonia, we happened upon this OpenROV adventure spot by accident. Searching for a “wild camping” spot in the dark, in a fishing town full of private property and wilderness parks (one sponsored by Columbia), we ended up following signs for promising-sounding Lago Riesco. An hour down washboard roads past kilometers of fence and cows on the wrong side of it, we pulled into a dirt road leading to the lake, our headlights finally hitting water and a stand of sturdy trees to get out of the wind. The next morning, we woke up next to a stunningly gorgeous lake surrounded by hazy, verdant mountains straight out of Gorillas in the Mist. As the clouds cleared, we realized the lake was fed by hanging glaciers topping each of the nearby peaks behind the green mountains. Out in the lake was a series of wooden structures that appeared too orderly to be tree stumps, so we got out OpenWeon to investigate.

First OpenROV expedition site was supposed to be an amazing lagoon in the middle of a crater that we stumbled upon as the sun was setting. Laguna Azul, near Rio Gallegos, Argentina is estimated to be around 55 meters deep, but it's never been measured. A surprisingly poetic sign at the site--a geologic reserve--read "Nada es casual por estas tierras, todo tiene una razon," loosely translated that nothing just happens in these lands, everything has a reason. That reason, the sign went on to suggest, was that the lagoon has no bottom, and the depths are inhabited by "seres extraños," strange beings that have energizing powers. So of course we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to 1) test the depth rating for a newly-built OpenROV, and 2) find aliens. Sadly, our plans were thrown off by the weather--gale-force winds picked up over the unprotected pampas and we were forced to abandon our quest for extraterrestrial life. First lesson: underwater robots can handle extreme wind and rain, but humans and their weak terrestrial computers cannot.

One day at the Start-Up Chile headquarters in Santiago, seven entrepreneurs from seven different countries joined together to build an OpenROV. After just 6 hours, the robot took its maiden voyage in a large fountain. Out of the group, only two had any experience with hands-on construction, but all quickly picked up soldering, acrylic welding, and even jumped in with creative solutions to missing materials. The battery endcaps were filled with super glue, wire ends finished with heat shrink and a lighter, and a tether reel fashioned out of some water bottles and duct tape. The robot's MacGyvered parts and chill nature earned it the name OpenWeon, weon being Chilean slang for a dude or bro. With parts constructed by many people during a quick build, OpenWeon performed admirably given the ultimate stress testing: driven into fountain walls by excited children. Once freshwater testing was complete, we packed up the robot for some saltwater testing in the field in Patagonia.

We took an OpenROV all around Patagonia to explore beneath the surface of glacier-fed lakes, crater lagoons and straits of nautical lore. Biggest takeaway? Robots don't mind the cold.

Excitement runs through the girls (and us instructors!) when we take the robot out for its first saltwater testing. For this micro-expedition, we explored the docks and pilings of the Alameda Marina--discovering a surprisingly colorful menagerie of bright orange sponges, ramen-like translucent seaweeds, tiny shrimp-like amphipods--and even a diving cormorant! In addition to recording marine life sightings, girls learned to keep a log of dives with depths and notes on robot performance and maintenance for future reference, since this robot will be traveling back and forth between these OpenROV pilots in California and Hawaii!

It's all hands on deck for the final steps in assembling an OpenROV, as all the structural, mechanical and electrical components come together and finally start to look like a robot! Next up is systems testing of the motors, moveable camera, led lights and lasers, before a dunk in the freshwater test tank to confirm that all seals are watertight. This group passed both sets of testing without a hitch!

From welding acrylic to wielding a dremel, girls pick up some handy shop skills along the way. In this camp, the girls even designed and constructed their own tether management system for their robot’s 100m tether!

One of the favorite parts of camp? Learning to solder! Soldering is a basic way to attach two wires together with high heat and a filler metal. From connecting the motors to wiring the lightboard, girls return to the solder gun again and again, mastering the art of a shiny solder joint by the end of camp.

As we build the robot as a team, girls learn shop skills along the way—and have an opportunity to share their knowledge. ROV pilot-in-training Keona said that in addition to building the motors and soldering, "most of all I liked that I got to help other girls build a robot that can go pretty deep to explore oceans!"

For this Girls Underwater Robot Camp, we had an exciting opportunity to build our little OpenROV at Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, where engineers design and build big working-class ROVs (remotely-operated vehicles) and submersibles!

Chief OpenROV and IT technician Dominik walks us through the magical ethernet bridge that Camp Google will tap into for tomorrow's live streaming event. After running a few systems tests, we launched the ROV for a dive that was beamed back--and driven--from land! After spending the last couple days prepping and launching these little robots for multiple daily dives, I'm definitely learning how challenging ocean conditions can be. From flooding a battery tube to getting entangled in sargassum, each dive holds a new challenge that I've overcome and added to my knowledge base--thanks in huge part to Dominik and Erika's patience and commitment to share knowledge and experience. Watch the submarine and OpenROV extraordinaire event here Monday at 12 PT: camp.withgoogle.com

Great scott! Erika explains the flux capacitor that will allow us to dive deep through space and time for Camp Google Ocean. Thanks to our partners at Project Baseline, our trip back to the sea is especially comfortable with their fast boats, panoramic submarines and delicious meals. Plus, their coral reef surveys are helping to build a ter-reef-ic knowledge base of this critical global ecosystem. Tune in Monday to watch a live broadcast featuring underwater exploration with OpenROVs: camp.withgoogle.com

We're in Fort Lauderdale! Yesterday we met the Camp Google Ocean team and spent the day prepping and hacking robots, coordinating boat and sub logistics...and testing the ethernet bridge! Erika gives us a rundown of this impressive set-up that will let us beam the underwater exploration of our OpenROVs back to shore. Today we're heading out along the coast to scout out dive sites in preparation for a live-streamed dive on Monday!

Yesterday we hacksawed, soldered, glued, heat gunned and epoxied the day away at OpenROV headquarters to get our robot fleet prepped to deploy this week in Fort Lauderdale. Here's the latest updates to veteran bot Puck, constructed by middle and high school girls at our January Girls Underwater Robot Camp in Berkeley!

Build it, and they will dive! This little robot's going on a grand adventure this week. I'm building the OpenROV that will be flown by National Geographic explorers Sylvia Earle and Erika Bergman from INSIDE a submersible! Erika's just finishing up the Ethernet bridge that will allow this magic to happen. It's the first time I've been able to build a robot from start to finish, and I'm having a blast. After having tinkered with OpenROVs for a few months, I have a whole new appreciation for how durable and efficient they are--so many little parts and pieces! Finishing up the build today...any name suggestions for this newest addition to the Google Ocean Camp Team?

We're right smack in the middle of constructing our fleet of expedition tools! Here's Erika with a sneak peek of the ethernet bridge that will broadcast the OpenROV feed back to land while we're out to sea.

Despite constant danger of losing the robot to the murk or grounding it in the perilous shallows, this mission was a fountainous success. Simply pondtacular. Max depth: 1.2 feet Visibility: nope Flora and fauna: chip bag, bugs, diaper? Intrigued onlookers: 6, plus dog Post-mission robot care: thorough washing

Water bodies on UC Berkeley's campus are few and far between, but I found one! Hearst Mining Circle fountain was built in 1914 as part of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, financed by Phoebe Apperson Hearst as a memorial to her husband George, a successful miner and U.S. Senator. Once a vibrant watery hub for student lounging and mischief, this fountain has fallen into disrepair due to the California drought. Murky and green, we believed these mysterious depths may hold forgotten treasures, until an overheated dog confirmed a max depth of 1.2 feet.

This second dive required some scrambling to get the robot in the water--and a bit of balance.

Dive Two: Pipe Dreams. We scouted out another dive site across the creek at the Islais Creek Promenade--with even more invasive trash species! Since our noble Puck had lost a propeller, we positioned him right in front of a submerged pipe and powered forward to peer inside. Puck's lights revealed an encrusting mass of mussels and barnacles on one end--and the ubiquitous trash critters on the other. The most interesting part was the pipe itself--it's terracotta--so some chapter of Islais Creek's rich industrial history remains. Any guesses?

As promised, here's news of the highly anticipated bonus expedition! SQUID: Samantha's Questionable, Utter Inverts Devotion. Specifically, and unsurprisingly, focused on the squishiest and most betentacled inverts out there--the squid! Silly acronyms aside, I really want to see market squid in Monterey Bay. Last year I saw one egg case and couldn't stop thinking about it. I went diving as often as possible in hopes of glimpsing an elegant tentacle tip or just a flash of chromatophore pyrotechnics. But no dice. With a trusty Robot Dive Buddy, I'll be able to scout out the most likely squid hangouts during the season before jumping in the water. This photo gives you an idea of what such a squid soiree might look like. The expeSQUIDtion is on! (Photo by epic squid scientist Roger Hanlon via the super handy and free SIMON photo library)

The California coast is beyond gorgeous. Dive down, and there are tiny menageries covering each rock. Towering kelp cathedrals provide a stopover and safe haven for local and migrant animals up and down the coast. It's also bracing (cold). And nutrient-rich (murky). Parts are super rocky (inaccessible). Plus fishermen like to fish (lots of stray lines to run into). I'd like to make an OpenROV an invaluable Robot Dive Buddy, helping divers check conditions, scope new sites and even collect samples. We're already working on a prototype for a plankton tow attachment to turn a robot into a midwater sample collector. Next on the idea list: a manipulator arm to pick up dropped gear, an attachment to cut fishing line, a robot-sized secchi disc to measure visibility, and on and on! Sounds cool? Join us! Expedition partners wanted! p.s. stay tuned for a bonus expedition... p.p.s. don't be fooled by Pikachu, it has to do with squid!

Build it, test it, fly it! This is Girls Underwater Robot camp--in 60 seconds!

Devil rays! Whale sharks! Sea fans! Sea lions? We'll dive/snorkel/boat/sit near them! We're planning on diving at least once a day, snorkeling while waiting for tanks to fill up and just getting our faces into everything we possibly can. Dive sites will depend on conditions and the whims of our octogenarian divemaster/philosophical leader. What do you get when you put a bunch of marine science nerds in a tent on a beach with unlimited ocean access? Stay tuned!