Project: Sparky


I have been spitballing with a few friends the past few months about what issues could be solved by the use of ROVs. I’m not talking about the exploration or light intervention most people are familiar with. There is a specific problem that requires some heavier intervention and bigger toys to solve. While my partners and I are still in high school, we hope to begin development on a ROV that will solve this issue and even utilize modularity in the future. While I have participated in competitions like MATE and SeaPerch, they only provide a basic overview of what underwater ROVs are capable of. So, with the help of this forum, I hope to learn as much as I can so that I may solve a real issue and track my progress with frequent updates including things like questions and suggestions. Below is a list of a few questions I have to get me started:
What is the general design/construction process used by professionals? In other words, how do they develop products that fit together and have the desired buoyancy once assembled?
Is a fiberglass (or similar) buoyancy system the best way to go in commercial underwater robotics? If so, how does one go about calculating size and shape to create the desired effect?
Am I able to design parts to be manufactured by CNC mills and other means using my student copy of SolidWorks 2014?
Should the chassis use a polyethylene construction or should other materials be considered?
Are there preexisting open sourced control systems I can possibly take inspiration from?
Should we look into battery power for an ultrathin tether?
So far the list above encompasses every question that has popped in my mind for now. In the future I hope to update this forum as stated before.

Thanks for reading,


Problem : spot crabs in Norway for crab farmers


We actually have a problem we would like to solve already. All we need at the moment is a few answers to the questions listed above to get started. Sorry for the confusion!


I can’t comment too much on your questions, we design underwater instrumentation, but I’m a lurker as far as ROV’s are concerned. I suspect that the desired operating depth and size/ power requirements would have a lot to do with some of the answers.

I will put in a plug for Autodesk’s Fusion 360 app for a CAD design environment, however. It’s free to student/ nonprofit/ startup operations, cross platform, very capable, includes great collaboration features for working in a group, has spectacular community support, and has integrated 3 axis CNC machining capability without leaving the program. Worth checking out.

Good luck.


Thanks for the reply. I’ll be sure to check out the software ad soon as I can. As for operation depth, we were thinking the ROV will need to be able to operate near the sea floor along pipelines. I’d say in that case it would need to be able to withstand the pressure that comes with being several hundred meters below the surface.