This Spry Underwater Drone Is Speed Swimming to Success on Kickstarter

Ahoy, ocean adventure for all. Meet OpenROV Trident, the sea spelunking hobby bot of your Jacques Cousteau dreams.

learn more about Kim Lachance Shandrow

By Kim Lachance Shandrow


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The future of ocean exploration is here and it's bobbing up the charts on Kickstarter. Meet OpenROV Trident, the remote control underwater drone of your swashbuckling submarine dreams.

It's a small, camera-equipped aquabot that anyone can easily steer. And it's relatively low-cost, as in about 1,000 times cheaper than the swimming robots filmmaker James Cameron used to plumb the Titanic.

Related: This Startup Wants to Reverse the Tide on Our Overfished Oceans

The waterproof robot's crowdfunding campaign officially set sail only three days ago and it's already reeled in seven times its $50,000 funding goal. Nearly $380,000 in pledges have poured in so far, with 43 days to go.

Gently through the waves the tethered, wedge-shaped drone scoots like a dolphin, capturing the life aquatic with its embedded HD camera, illuminating the subsea sights with dual LED lights. The best part: You're the captain at the helm. You tell the underwater eye where to venture with your smartphone, laptop, tablet or virtual reality device. Navigating can easily be done from a boat, a surfboard, a dock or the shore. You choose.

Image credit: OpenROV

Weighing 6.6 pounds and propelled by a pair of hydrodynamic thrusters, the black and white device speeds in long, linear lines and darts up and down. It also wriggles into tight spaces between coral and rocks, and, fingers crossed, even around golden treasures in sunken shipwrecks. In all, the deepest it plunges is 328 feet (or 100 meters).

Related: How a Fishing-Gear Company Is Reeling In Customers With Its Live Streaming Videos

Batten down your wallet. Backers have already scooped up the least expensive offerings on Kickstarter. What's left are packages ranging from $949 to $5,000. The latter of which puts you aboard an upcoming expedition off the northern coast of California. Three years in the making, the first units are slated to deliver in November 2016.

As its name suggests, the OpenROV Trident is an open source gadget, which means all of its software and hardware files are shared for free online. Anyone can tweak or refine the design. Non-techie types will appreciate that it arrives ready to take the plunge right out of the box. No assembly required. The standard package comes with the drone, an 82-foot tether that streams live video to an included Wi-Fi topside buoy, and batteries that last three hours.

This isn't OpenROV's first robot for aspiring Jacques Cousteaus everywhere. The San Francisco startup's inaugural underwater remote-control vehicle also made a big splash on Kickstarter, coasting past its funding goal in just two hours and setting off a wave of thousands of sales in some 50 countries around the globe.

Related: Exploring the Deep Ocean With Underwater Robots

David Lang and Eric Stackpole co-founded OpenROV in 2012, when they invented their first consumer maritime machine. They were on a quest to discover gold lost in a subaqueous cave in the foothills of the Sierras. Unable to locate a reasonably priced underwater ROV anywhere, the seafaring entrepreneurs did what all good DIYers do. They asked the Internet and soon, with the help of ocean-loving makers and hobbyists the world over, they built their own. Lang tells the cool tale in this TED Talk.

Image credit: OpenROV | Kickstarter

Stackpole and Lang never did strike gold. But what they did find was a vast, untapped and lucrative market, a sea of amateur oceanographers that share their passion for uncovering the mysteries of the deep. And, as Lang said, that's much more valuable than gold.

Related: The Business of Building Artificial Reefs

Kim Lachance Shandrow

Former West Coast Editor

Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper,, and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

Would You Buy Maggie Murdaugh's Monogrammed Snake Print Pillows? Items From the Murdaugh Family Home Are Going Up for Auction

The sale comes just weeks after Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the June 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and son Paul Murdaugh.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.


How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Business News

Jake Paul and Lindsay Lohan Fined $400,000 for 'Illegally Touting' Crypto

The SEC just disclosed that eight celebrities agreed to a massive settlement without admitting guilt.


After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.

Author Karen Inglis breaks down the strategies and tactics you need to generate awareness and sales for your self-published book.

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.