From Thought to Reality: Underwater Surveillance Robots Take 3D Under the Sea

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Scuba divers can typically only go to depths of 30-40 meters safely; however with more training (and a new scuba suit) they can go deeper.  Some divers can reach much deeper with high-end atmospheric diving suits, but this can be dangerous.  However, with little training, you can guide a diving robot (ROV – Remotely Operated [underwater] Vehicle) deeper than any human, and search the ocean’s depths for sunken treasure, capsized ships, or for signs that Mermaids exist.  And if you want to explore the ocean with an ROV, you’ll probably have to talk to the guys at SeaBotix, who have basically invented the small ROV.

I had the opportunity to visit SeaBotix at the company’s headquarters in San Diego. There I met with Jesse Rodocker, Senior Vice President at SeaBotix, who started the company with his father. The father/son duo is responsible for developing the ROVs that have transformed SeaBotix from a company of two employees in the late 1990s to over 65 today.

Jesse does not just oversee business operation at SeaBotix, as he is also an ROV operator, and has probably spent more time operating an ROV than anyone.  He has been on many missions: from search and rescue to hidden treasure.  What’s interesting is that Jesse is a SOLIDWORKS user, but is not an engineer by trade.  Because he has the best understanding of what is required for an undersea ROV design, he creates the initial concepts in SOLIDWORKS; then hands the design over to Tony, SeaBotix’s engineer, who takes the initial concepts and creates the final design ready for production.

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SeaBotix ROVs are used for many types of deep sea tasks. One common application is inspecting damage on ships and they can even be fitted with wheels and ride on the side of vessels instead of swimming freely. Most importantly, SeaBotix ROVs are very easy to operate and I know this from experience. While visiting, Jesse gave me the opportunity to operate one in a tank – they wouldn’t let a landlubber like me take one out on the high seas.

Check out this video to see how Jesse and Tony work together to come up with new ideas, and modify existing designs to create high end- ROVs using SOLIDWORKS (registration may be required).

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Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling is a Senior Marketing Manager at SolidWorks and the host for the Born to Design Podcast.