Employing an Arduino microcontroller inside an underwater drone is feasible but demands careful waterproofing.
While the board’s electronics are vulnerable to moisture damage, encasing it properly in a sealed container or epoxy resin can safeguard the components.
Additional defensive measures like conformal coatings on the PCB provide further protection to enable the Arduino to operate during marine deployments.
Here are some key points to consider when using an Arduino in an underwater drone:
- Waterproof everything thoroughly – the Arduino board, electronic components, wiring, and connections must be completely sealed in a watertight housing or enclosure to prevent water damage and malfunctions.
- Choose parts designed for marine environments – sensors, power systems, and communication devices should be specifically rated for underwater operation and corrosion resistance.
- Mind metal corrosion – saltwater quickly corrodes unsuitable metals, so specialized coatings or materials are required for the frame, fixtures, and fasteners.
- Test extensively before deploying – controlled testing lets you catch and fix issues with the electronics, sensors, maneuverability and programming prior to open water tests.
- Develop specialized Arduino code – factoring in bidirectional communication, motor control, sensor data handling, and navigational challenges unique to underwater drones.
- Consider commercial options – for professional-grade reliability and capabilities, specialized commercial underwater drones with purpose-built hardware and software may be the best fit versus an improvised DIY build.
The underwater environment is extremely unforgiving to electronics. While Arduino-powered designs are possible, they require extensive precautions, marine-specific parts, and thorough testing to function reliably on missions.
What is the difference between ROV and AUV?
Excellent point on the key difference – autonomous operation sets AUVs apart from tethered ROV counterparts. AUVs like wave gliders leverage complex programming to independently navigate waypoints, adjust buoyancy, avoid obstacles, and monitor system health without any human piloting or physical cable connections.
This allows an AUV to complete pre-planned survey missions exploring pipeline conditions, mapping seabeds, or tracking migrating species over long distances or durations unachievable with an ROV.
Once its sensors have captured the designated data utilizing programmed route optimization, computer vision avoidance, and other AI functionality, the AUV autonomously recalculates the most efficient path back to a recovery vessel or docking station to upload and analyze the insights gathered on its unmanned expedition.
This freedom from remote piloting constraints gives AUVs remarkable capabilities to expand our undersea visibility, though loss of signal risks make them unsuitable for specialized real-time observation or manipulation tasks still better suited to directly piloted ROV platforms. Determining mission parameters helps identify which approach serves best. But by removing onboard crews, AUV automation promises to unlock revolutionary maritime and scientific possibilities as the supporting technologies continue to mature.
How much does it cost to build an ROV?
An excellent point on the cost factors. While a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) can be improvised on a strict budget under $100 by repurposing materials, this baseline estimate does not account for key components required for practical functionality. To equip the ROV for real-world
observation and operation, dedicated investments in propulsion, imagery, illumination and manipulators drastically expand upfront expenses.
For example, incorporating essential elements like marine-grade waterproof cameras, LED floodlights, gripper claws and high-capacity batteries adds hundreds of dollars in specialized marine-rated parts. Furthermore, using the ROV effectively relies on access to support vessels, piloting control stations,
data transmission infrastructure and other secondary equipment adding to operational overheads over time. So while the frame, floats and thrusters may be assemblable on a shoestring budget, organizations should anticipate much higher expenditures to field viable ROVs suited for long-
duration deployments necessary for serious on-water data gathering, inspection and intervention roles. Determining specific monitoring and interaction requirements is advised to budget appropriately for all necessities before undertaking ROV builds.