He is the chief designer of a cheap, portable underwater ROV that could change the way we explore our oceans. And he wants to make it so cheap and easy to build that anyone can do it.
The ROV will be controlled by a laptop through a web browser. Theoretically, it can be steered from anywhere in the world, as long as there is a computer tethered to it on-site.
Most ROV's cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to buy. The vehicle that took James Cameron down to Challenger Deep cost $55,000 in daily operating costs alone. That makes underwater ROV something that very few interested amateurs can break into, which is likely holding oceanography back.
Stackpole wants to change this.
Right now the rover can only dive to 100 meters. But considering that its closest competition, a commercial ROV called the Videoray, retails for $10,000 and can only dive to 76 meters, that isn't too terrible.
And the project is seeing some traction among the scientific community, too. Oceanography has been hit hard by the recession, and money for oceanographic research has largely dried up. Already NASA is planning on using the small sub at the Aquarius Reef base, one of the only underwater research facilities left in the world.
Bits Photo by : OpenROV/Sam Kelly