Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

RIT Students Design Deep-Sea Explorer to Search for Lake Ontario Shipwrecks

22.05.2006


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.”

Michael Saffran | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rit.edu/news/pics/rov
http://www.rit.edu/~sjg2490/ROV/team.html
http://www.rit.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>