Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Students Design Deep-sea Explorer To Search For Shipwrecks

Date:
May 22, 2006
Source:
Rochester Institute of Technology
Summary:
A team of Rochester Institute of Technology engineering majors built the explorer, an underwater remote-operated vehicle, or ROV. This spring and summer, the device will be used to explore century-old shipwrecks resting on the bottom of Lake Ontario and the Atlantic Ocean, giving human explorers their first glimpses of some all-but-forgotten vessels lost to the seas.

A team of Rochester Institute of Technology engineering majors built the explorer, an underwater remote-operated vehicle, or ROV. This spring and summer, the device will be used to explore century-old shipwrecks resting on the bottom of Lake Ontario and the Atlantic Ocean, giving human explorers their first glimpses of some all-but-forgotten vessels lost to the seas.

It’s designed to explore the depths of large bodies of water—and one recent weekend, that’s exactly where it was found: searching the depths of the deep end of Judson Pool in Rochester Institute of Technology’s Gordon Field House and Activities Center. (As the adage goes, every journey begins with a single step.)

A team of RIT engineering majors built the explorer, an underwater remote-operated vehicle, or ROV—and it has been described as one of the most ambitious student projects ever at RIT. This spring and summer, the device will be used to explore century-old shipwrecks resting on the bottom of Lake Ontario and the Atlantic Ocean—giving human explorers their first glimpses of some all-but-forgotten vessels lost to the seas.

The nine-member RIT team is led by Dan Scoville, a 2005 RIT graduate who has located and explored three “virgin” (previously undiscovered) shipwrecks in Lake Ontario in the past five years. Scoville, who personally backed the ROV project financially, now has his sights set on two undisclosed Lake Ontario shipwrecks (one is an 1800s-era schooner—the names and precise locations of the vessels won’t be revealed until this fall) and, working with the Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut, the steamship Portland, which sank off the coast of Gloucester, Mass, in 1898.

Some of the fewer than a thousand ships lost in Lake Ontario have been discovered and salvaged, while others are in water too deep to explore, Scoville says. That leaves a small number—perhaps a dozen—in the 100-to-400-foot-depth range in the area from the Niagara River to Oswego accessible to explorers such as Scoville. But they’re not easily found, Scoville says. Even after they’re located, they can’t be salvaged because those between the shores of New York and the international line are considered state property.

“We do it because we love doing it,” says Scoville, an electrical engineer with Hydroacoustics Inc. and a scuba diver for about 10 years. “When you find one, it’s neat. It’s a really cool experience.

Little device makes a big splash

The small, 60-pound, battery-powered ROV, designed and built over two quarters, is equipped with up to four removable video cameras, four high-intensity lamps (serving, in essence, as headlights), a navigational compass, a timer, and sensors to measure depth, pressure and temperature. Four variable-speed motors enable vertical, forward and reverse movement and turning maneuverability. RIT students custom-built most circuit boards, wrote the software and created the graphical user interface used to control the device. All components are housed in watertight canisters (using 88 seals); a lightweight aluminum frame is rugged and modifiable.

The explorer is controlled by a joystick attached to a laptop computer that communicates with a microprocessor (the ROV’s “command center”) via a 680-foot-long fiber-optic cable. A human at the controls sees what the ROV “sees” through live video streaming and sensor readings.

The device is capable of diving at about two feet per second to a depth of 400 feet—about twice as deep as a skilled scuba diver can descend. A foam top helps achieve neutral buoyancy, enabling the ROV to remain level while underwater. A 100-minute battery life allows it to stay underwater longer than human divers. Future enhancements may include the addition of a mechanical arm and extended diving capability—perhaps enabling the explorer to reach Lake Ontario’s maximum depth of about 800 feet.

Building the ROV cost the RIT team about $15,000, including $10,000 from sponsors. An equivalent commercially produced underwater ROV would cost $20,000 to $50,000, Scoville says. He describes the members of his team as not merely students, but skilled, practicing engineers.

“I lucked out with a really good team,” he says. “We were told it couldn’t be done.”

For more information, visit http://www.rit.edu/~sjg2490/ROV/team.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rochester Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rochester Institute of Technology. "Students Design Deep-sea Explorer To Search For Shipwrecks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060519233954.htm>.
Rochester Institute of Technology. (2006, May 22). Students Design Deep-sea Explorer To Search For Shipwrecks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060519233954.htm
Rochester Institute of Technology. "Students Design Deep-sea Explorer To Search For Shipwrecks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060519233954.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) A Spanish cannon used in the Battle of New Orleans and weighing nearly 3 tons was lowered Tuesday by pulleys, chains and muscle onto a new gun carriage like one that might have held it once aboard a navy ship. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins