The 3D Robotics Aero-M has 40 minutes of flight time for mapping and surveillance. Photo: 3D Robotics.

The 3D Robotics Aero-M has 40 minutes of flight time for mapping and surveillance. Photo: 3D Robotics.

OpenExplorer, OpenROV’s community offshoot, is offering free drones to intrepid adventurers with goals of science and discovery.

Their new program, co-sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation, offers an autonomous craft from 3D Robotics — either an Iris+ quadcopter or an Aero fixed-wing plane — to individuals or teams that register their project on OpenExplorer, build a small following, and generate $100 towards their own cause.

The first three groups that meet this criteria will receive one of the drones. 

Best known for democratizing undersea exploration with their small underwater robots, OpenROV has moved quickly since launching OpenExplorer in 2014. The platform currently hosts 160 expeditions, fascinating tales of treasure hunts and wreckage finding happening all over the globe. It is attracting partners though its combination of serious amateur research and engaging story telling.

The new program furthers an interesting aspect to the still young OpenExplorer site, that of program sponsorship. Last year OpenROV teamed up the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation to provide their underwater craft to various teams, resulting in projects including open lab work in Sydney to marine archaeology in New England

new england ROV

“Our experience with OpenROV over the past few years taught us something beyond how to build a low-cost underwater robot,” explains OpenROV co-founder David Lang. “Mainly, that science, exploration and conservation can now be accomplished with low-cost, DIY tools and a community of collaborators. These new tools and models for engagement don’t correlate well to the traditional science grant funding models. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has been a pioneer in supporting these new methods, and has been a great partner for our first batch of microsponsorships.”

As for their decision to provide aerial 3D Robotics drones for this round of sponsorships, Lang explains “3DR is making the most robust tools for the job.”

After this program, OpenExplorer and Lang plan to keep busy. “We have a few more interesting microsponsorships coming up very soon, too, relating to the Internet of Living Things as well as Urban Exploration.”

The OpenROV side has been busy of late as well, recently launching their latest submersible, the v2.7, a more rugged design with hot-rodded motors and additional lights for improved underwater exploration.


Don’t miss David Lang’s book, Zero to Maker