reefRover being tested in the sea (Image by reefRover Team)

The reefRover is an affordable open source underwater autonomous vehicle (submersible drone) that enables marine enthusiasts and other non-scientists to help collect research-grade coral reef image data. We believe this crowdsourced approach to data collection has the potential to transform coral conservation efforts by dramatically increasing the amount of data that can be collected and the frequency at which reefs can be monitored.

The reefRover is built on top of the OpenROV platform. Modifications we made include a stabilized underwater stereoscopic imaging system and a towed buoy for wireless communication and navigation.

My teammates and I won second place in the national category at the 2016 UAE Drones for Good Competition with reefRover. My teammates at NYU Abu Dhabi (along with a few new team members) are continuing development work on image processing algorithms to reconstruct 3D models of coral reefs from 2D images and perfecting the autonomous navigation system.

Read more about the reefRover at the project website.