How some Greek students built their very own, DiDIY underwater robot vehicle

hydrobot detail

(this is a guest post by the Hydrobot team members mentioned below)

MIT’s Sea Perch, also known as Hydrobot in Greece, is an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) than can be built easily by simple materials and into a school environment. Hydrobots give the chance to hobbyists to build a remotely controlled vehicle that can dive as deep as its maker likes and explore the underwater environment of a sea, a river or a lake. Such vehicles can, for example, take water samples for analysis purposes, take snapshots or videos and offer fun to its younger or older operators.

It is for these reasons that, in July 2015, some students and professors of the Papagou High School of Athens set up to transform the Sea Perch into a more flexible, remotely controlled vehicle. By default, in fact, the  Perch is remotely controlled by an electro-mechanical setup mainly based on a manual controller connected to the vehicle and sourced by a 12V battery. The students, instead, went for a solution based on Open-source software that would control the hardware. The hardware is based on the tiny PC named Raspberry Pi and on other subsystems that are described below.

The conversion made by Papagou's students opens up new possibilities on upgrading the basic Hydrobot implementation like, for example:

  • adding sensors and other boards for real-time monitoring of the aquatic environment
  • moving the vehicle in predesigned routes based on repeating or random patterns in order to watch specific target points
  • controlling the vehicle via alternative devices like joysticks, gamepads, smartphones, or even voice commands.
  • possibility to add special robotic arms that will be remotely controlled for objects’retrieval from seabed, or other operations
The Hydrobot turned out to be a great "Digital DIY for, and in Education" project and case study. The students were amazed by project learning, team-working and creating the Hydrobot vehicle from PVC pipes, simple DC motors and wires. Basic principles of Science, Hydrodynamics, Engineering, Soldering and Assembling (STEM approach) were presented to the team and the enthusiasm peaked when the Hydrobot was submerged for the first time into the Greek clear sea water!

"Proud, to be member of this team", "It was a fantastic experience to cooperate with other students and use the product of our work", "This should be part of the usual schooldays timetable, instead of developing it on afternoons", were some of the students' words.

To know more about the Hydrobot...

All the features above can be implemented with minor changes on the hardware and software of the suggested solution, based on its flexible and open architecture. A detailed technical description of the Hydrobot is here. Many more pictures and details (Greek) are in this and this page on the Papagous High School website. You can watch Hydrobot in action, and the whole procedure of building, testing and finally submerging it from the school’s students, in this and this video (Greek subs only).

Hydrobot Team Members