Remotely Piloted Marine Study Platform (RP-MSP)

1. Rationale: Create practical, mobile, aerial and aquatic imaging systems using drone technology while simultaneously learning useful engineering techniques such as design, construction, soldering, welding, and programming.

2. Course Overview: We will complete unfinished UAV (Unmanned Aerial/Aquatic Vehicle) drones that were partially assembled by the current senior class (class of 2014) and integrate them with various types of imaging technology, specifically sonar and radar. All participating students would like to lead and/or be involved in the design, engineering, assembly, and programming of these drones. When finished, the drones should be able to perform a variety of tasks. They should be able to fly/drive on water using a programmed controller. They should be able to transfer data back to a computer from their sonar and radar devices. Ultimately, an image or information of the drone’s environment should be derived from such data. While attempting to complete these goals, it will be necessary that we research various engineering techniques in order to better our design and troubleshoot. This research will serve a dual purpose: it will both help us complete our drones and will aid us in future engineering endeavors.

3. Course Outcome: We expect to better ourselves in the field of engineering, which we are all interested in but have very little practical experience. We also expect to produce a drone that will be able to process the environment with sonar and radar and will be directly or indirectly applicable in some sort of larger field of study. Such possibilities include integrating Google glass or the Oculus rift into our systems with cameras and creating a real time environment.

4. Assessment: To evaluate our success, we would like to create a portfolio of the drones and all the changes we make to them from start to finish. The portfolio will consist of sketches and written ideas that we have during the engineering process, which will show the advancement of the drones over time as well as our advancement in knowledge in the field of engineering. We would also like to give a final demo of the drones at the end of the year, open to any faculty or public community member.

5. Schedule: All work on the drones will take place at the energy lab with Dr. Bill Wiecking as our advisor. It seems possible for us to have the same period set aside for this Independent as we are all taking the same/similar classes and this would result in the most beneficial results for our Independent project.


The main project I will be undertaking is a collaborative effort with my friend and research partner Mason duPont in our endeavors to create a remotely piloted marine study platform through the refurbishing and reworking of our iBoat. Our goal is to create a platform from which we can monitor and study whales and other ocean life forms off of our beautiful coastline here in Hawaii! We will have things such as a hydrophone, camera above and below water, and a set up so that we will be receiving a real time feed from said cameras. We hope to gather valuable information, as well as some awesome footage, of the humpback whales that make the Hawaiian islands their calving grounds.


So far we have been looking at the iBoat itself. We have been looking around for the necessary tools to take the boat apart and then refurbish it, and so far it looks like we have most of the tools we need. We have also been researching electronics and parts while at home such as servos. It seems as if our best course of action as of now is to take the whole boat apart and fabricate all of the parts ourselves using the current hulls as a good base start. The hulls will need to be sanded down, repainted, and re-primed for seafaring usage.