Success and setbacks!

The Marine Protected Area survey is run by team member Chris, it consists of 20, 40, 60 and 100 meter line transects. The pier on Santa Rosa is the dividing line where the  Carrington Point MPA starts, which makes it the perfect place to deploy the ROV. We have the tether marked with distance, and floats. The 100 meter transects require our inflatable boat because the length of the tether will not permit it.

The MPA transects have been going very well, we have been seeing tons of fish! The visibility has been the best that we’ve seen it.

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and had a curious new friend come up and gave the ROV a friendly bump!

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After our hike around the island, we went to get the boat inflated so we could start doing the longer distance MPA transects, only to find out that it had been damaged in transit and had a few holes! We sent out an email immediately to other researchers that were heading to the island and they pick up a patch kit for us thankfully!

Later worked on one of our new units, Leviathan, which has the Blue Robotics T100 thrusters. We had to add some buoyancy to make it neutrally buoyant. It had a great first dive.


It  still needs some more balancing, when heading full forward it dives, we found that the front is a bit too buoyant still and we were able to do water breaches!



Exploring the island by land and sea

We have been regularly running transects for the mpa study, and have had less problems since we’ve upgraded our ROVs to the 2.7 models.


We took some of out new members on a hike around Santa Rosa Island, and showed off some of the interesting relics that were left behind by the ranchers that settled on the islands.



We have had a lot of issues with our navigation a modules, so we have resorted to using a manual compass within the view of the camera, and, and relying on our gopro footage for fish counts.

We made it to the islands!


The majority of the team is now on Santa Rosa Island! We have a great ride aboard the ship, The Ocean Ranger, courtesy of the national park service.


We arrived and immediately consumed work space with numerous toolboxes, parts, and ROVs.


The MPA surveys have been going very well, despite some hangups. Team members Chris and Blake have completed in the neighborhood of 30 transects and will continue to collect data over the next week.

There is still work to be done on the intertidal unit with new reels but we are making some great progress and will be hopefully be testing it on thursday.


Preparing for Santa Rosa Island Research Projects

Two of our AARR team members, Chris and Blake, have already been deployed to Santa Rosa Island!  They left this Tuesday, March 3rd, and are running transects on the island to survey MPAs. They are using two of our Open ROVs, the 2.7 units. 

Paul and the remainder team will be deploying the intertidal system next Tuesday. They will be using a heavily modified 2.6 unit. 


Today Paul, Rebecca and Tim are working feverishly to get the last ROVs ready for the trip.

They repairing an old ROV and building a brand new ROV, which (Paul and Co) will be deploying when they head to Santa Rosa Island on Tuesday March 10.

With one of the brand new 2.7 ROV, the team is adding the newly acquired Blue Robotics thrusters, which hopefully will help in the harsh salt water conditions that our ROVs are deployed in regularly.

Building the New Fleet of OpenROVs, and STEM Out Reach

The AARR team.
The AARR team.

The AARR Team has been working to complete the three new updated 2.7 OpenROV units for deployment at our upcoming expedition to Santa Rosa Island. Currently the team has finished two of the 2.7 units in just two short weeks after taking receipt of then. This is an amazing pace, as each of the previous 2.6 units took between 2-3 weeks of work to complete! There are a number of upgrades to durability, power, lighting, and more!

Chris and Paul prepping a newly built ROV.  This is one of three they have been working on since the beginning of February.
Chris and Paul prepping a newly built ROV. This is one of three they have been working on since the beginning of February.
The brand new ROV in all it’s glory.  The second ROV is 50% complete and the third should be completed on March 1.
The brand new ROV in all it’s glory. The third ROV is 50% complete and should be completed on March 1.

This last Friday, the team tested one of the new ROVs before running off to give a presentation at the Channel Islands Boating Center.  After checking to see if the aquatic rover responded correctly to all commands, ensured the camera worked, and after making a few fixes so it would maneuver properly, they set off to the CI Boating Center where students from Oxnard’s Frank Middle School was waiting for them. The AARR works with many middle and high schools, and specifically works with the Frank Middle School Academy of Marine Science and Engineering, and VEX Robotics students.

Paul spoke to the VEX robotics students about using ROVs for environmental research.
Earlier in the week, Paul brought one of the OpenROVs to Frank Middle School and spoke to the VEX robotics students about research expeditions “adventure science” and using ROVs for environmental research.
At the boating center dock, Paul found a Bat Star along with some of the students from Frank MIddle School.
At the CI boating center dock, Paul and some of the marine science academy students, found a Bat star!

Expanding the AARR: our trip to visit OpenROV and TechShop SF!

CSU Channel Islands is working to increase professionalism in regards to aerial and aquatic Remotely Piloted Systems. (RPS) The university has started a class led by Dr. Sean Anderson with assistance by our project lead, Paul, which covers the fundamentals of RPS. This includes safety, laws / regulations, basic physics behind different platforms, and the piloting of off the shelf (or nearly off the shelf) platforms for use in research and resource management. The course is slated to train budding scientists to use RPS as tools to further the understanding and management of the environment, and to operate them in a safe and professional manner.

The team has been focused on mainly underwater ROVs, and as such our department has opted to increase the number of ROV’s in our fleet. We have added three of the 2.7 model OpenROVs for a total of five! About a week ago, Paul traveled to Berkeley to the OpenROV head quarters to pick up our three new units, and meet with co-founder of the company, Eric Stackpole.

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Eric invited Paul to come to an OpenROV/Open Explorer #Explorertech maker / hacker design day TechShop SF, a maker space which has pretty much every cool tool imaginable, from 3D printers to CNC mills.


There were several projects which were simultaneously being tackled by many great minds from many different backgrounds. There were engineers, hackers, biologists, chemists and environmental scientists, among many others! Some of the projects included: making an explorer flag, building sonar units, building plankton tow sampling units, creating shade structures for deployment on kayaks, making control methods for the OpenROV using a midi keyboard, and adapting the OpenROV for terrestrial exploration (via RC monstertruck).


One of the most interesting projects to us was the building of sonar units, as we have been working toward building our own. The participants at this event were already molding sonar units into urethane, hopefully soon there will be one of these units on all of our ROVs!


New members and new projects!

It has been quite the busy season for us! As mentioned before, we are working to release a 7 video series of our trip to Santa Rosa Island. As mentioned in the previous post, due to some hardware issues the videos have been delayed, but the team has kept going full steam!


From left to right: Blake, Ryan, Alex, Chris, Jessica, Tim, Paul, Rebecca and Justin
The AARR happily welcomes 4 new members to the team for a total of 10 members!
Alex – Environmental Science and Resource Management

Justin – Biology

Ryan – Environmental Science

Tim – Computer Science

We have been working hard to support our two main studies Marine Protected Area Surveys on Santa Rosa Island, and quantitative analysis of ROV platforms. There is another expedition planned to Santa Rosa Island next month!

We have a few more ROV based projects that will soon be launched, including the resurrection of the Phantom 500 ROV, studying the reactions of fish to ROVs based upon appearance (which includes disguising our ROVs like fish!), adding additional sensors (such as sonar and water chemistry), performing phytoplankton surveys and more!

The CSU Chanel Islands “Crossing the Channel” STEM outreach program is in the second phase where the team will be working with middle and high school students and building ROVs, along with teaching the high school students how to answer research questions with ROVs, and piloting our OpenROVs!