Hi rey. In terms of what we do.
At the moment we are hoping to get get the Trident we pre ordered in Nov / Dec this year and then learn to drive it as it comes out of the box.
First project with students will be a "comparison of methods" on a local field camp in Feb 2017 where they do a survey of a seagrass area by hand (tapes, quadrats, handheld cameras), and then do the same area by ROV (with a simple, down facing GoPro). Then they write up results and look at the pro's and con's of both methods. Its a good way to get them, as users, to start thinking about how to collect data and that leads to thinking about what else that can do with ROV's depending on specific projects.
Since its an ROV, we can actually let the students drive it. There is a lot of interest in UAV's here as well, but we run into legal and regulatory issues as they fly and have the potential to crash into members of the public, so we have to have people qualified to fly them that cuts out undergrads out of much of the hands-on involvement in data collection.
Also, a lot of the people who our students will be looking for employment with after graduation (consultants, Govt Departments who do monitoring and scientific work) are moving towards using ROV's for the "grunt" type survey work they need done as there are far less Occupational Health and Safety issues than with having divers in the water, and productivity benefits. We think you can get more transects done in a day with ROV's than with divers.
Upshot is that we can use affordable ROV's like Trident, with simple payloads like a GoPro to update our teaching units and give the students some practical "job ready" training with an emerging tech.
We are also hoping to use ROV's in some of our interactions with local High Schools where we do "look at us, we are great and you want to enrol here for Uni" type recruitment activities.
There is a lot of interest from researchers. Monitoring Seagrass rehab projects, Artificial Reef deployment and evolution, Fish population studies, Coral Reef survey and monitoring (especially in areas with lots of tourist pressure).
To some extent at the moment its a "build it and they will come" thing for us, but we see a lot of potential. We will know more once we have had a Trident for a little while and assessed how robust, reliable, and "Honours Student Proof" they are as against ongoing cost of ownership.
In terms of the more technical, hardware aspects that seem to be you focus, I have passed on a link to this thread to the academic in know in Engineering and IT here. He's the one pulling together the group that is interested in payloads, sensors, programming, apps, and i am hoping he will take an interest in what you are doing with the WiFi stuff. The beauty of the open source community thing is that everybody can leverage off everyone else's contributions to some extent and progress their own projects better and faster that way.
If you are interested, have a look at these two links. They will give you a look at the kind of environments we will be looking to use ROV's in and the sorts of things we have had the students do to date. The second link is probably more relevant to the UAV stuff Lars does, but we'll see where they go.