The Great Barrier Reef has always been a tough place to get one’s hands-on. But fortunately, Teleportal.Fish has made it quite possible. It has a rapid deployment high-performance ROV system that provides more power and versatility compared to other vehicles. With the help of a computer, anyone can virtually visit the reef via a live link to a remote-control underwater robot.
The system was developed by Australian documentary filmmaker Adam Cropp. It currently features two Osibot Heavy ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). Furthermore, the whole fleet will eventually be available to users.
A base station anchored 30 km (19 miles) offshore at Arlington Reef in Far North Queensland, Australia, secures the ROVs. The vehicles’ batteries at the station are charged via solar panels. In addition, it keeps the ROVs connected to the internet via 4G.
Through an online portal, users worldwide can monitor one of the bots while viewing live video from its wide-angle 1080p camera on their computer screen. Users navigate it using the same keyboard keys commonly used in gaming, taking it up to 100 meters/328 ft (the maximum tether length) in any direction from its base.
The resilient, compact in size, and user-friendly ROVs feature HD camera and LED spotlights that provide a total of 4,000 lumens for dark light. In addition, a sonar-based obstacle avoidance system is also installed to prevent coral damage. With a high speed of 3 knots (3.5 mph or 5.6 km/h), they can translate operators’ commands with a latency of fewer than 200 milliseconds. An open account with pre-purchased credits is required by users, which will be then utilized in their dives. According to the company, a 1-hour dive could approximately cost AUD$30 to $50 (about US$22 to $37). In addition, the portal features an inexpensive animated simulator, where new users can practice using one of the ROVs before taking the bad boy into the real field.