A brief history, again
The Aalto Explorer project was developed by Findia team -students from Aalto University in collaboration with Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI)- in Product Development Project (PDP) course at Aalto Design Factory, from September 2017 to May 2018. After FIND-X unveiling in PDP gala, the project was selected to be exhibited in November at Global Grad Show 2018 in Dubai Design Week. Due to the project success, the sponsor and his partners decided to continue with the project.
Aalto Explorer envisions a remote vehicle and a network application – the so-called expedition platform – to be controlled by the community and be made available to any ocean-enthusiasts, casual explorers and life-long learners, sending them on exciting journeys of oceanic exploration on their own terms and at their own pace. The community and/or experts can organise and book an expedition on one of the AE FIND-X units deployed around the world. These units are composed of three main elements: a Floating Module, a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) and a Graphic User Interface (GUI), known as the Expedition Platform. The communication between users and the floating module is enabled by 4G technology. The floating module connects to the ROV via an umbilical cord that supplies energy and allows the communication with the cameras and the control of the ROV unit.
The first and second versions of FIND-X were designed, built and tested in December 2017 and April 2018 respectively, and V 2.0 went on to be exhibited at the Dubai Design Week. The design of the third version, FIND-X V3.0 started from January 7th, 2019. The team has been working hard on the V3.0 for more than half a year, and the final version is being wrapped up for testing in July-August 2019. In this version, the changes are made in the selection of software, hardware and other commercial components and platforms, as well as the selection of production and finishing processes that will be fit for the final product.
Changes in the V3.0
FIND-X V3.0 will be an upgraded version from the last year. One of the main changes is on the ROV unit. The maximum deepness of operation will be 100m, which is the average deepness of the marine continental shelf. For this reason, the unit will change the use of tracks for thrusters, and this change will give more movement freedom and speed to avoid obstacles and cover a larger area in less time. Another change would be to accommodate different stakeholders on their different needs. In terms of explorers’ experience, a 360° camera is added to give users more range of view. This type of cameras allows using the VR goggles with smartphones, which is something that other ROV doesn’t have until now. For researchers, sensors for PH and salinity are added, complementing temperature, deepness and pressure sensors. These new sensors add value to the measurement of the marine environment ecosystem, such as coral reefs monitoring.
The expedition platform Graphic User Interface (GUI) for this version is re-designed and enhanced in terms of interaction. This version now works on a full-screen window, with different information displays according to the roles of the user on the expedition. The main benefit of the platform is that the expedition’s videos and pictures can be stored in the cloud, which means we offer almost unlimited storage space and that we don’t need an SD memory unlike what our competitors are currently offering.The floating module is the main connection between the ROV and Aalto Explorer expedition platform. In this version, the design is more robust, compact and light than the former version. Solar energy is harvested and stored in lithium waterproof batteries, and this energy storage is essential to supply energy 24/7 to the ROV in a more efficient way. The architectures and platforms used are better in terms of performance and speed connection. Moreover, the main hardware is designed to be easy to upgrade the components to the upcoming 5G connection. The simple and more streamlined design of the floating module increases the protection of all the components from the environment (sun, rain and waves), decreasing the risks for any physical damage to the mechanisms and components.
Technical requirements for FIND-X 3.0
In order the realise the vision and objectives for the new version, the following requirements regarding each component have to be met:
Graphic User Interface
- Create the GUI for the 3 user profiles of the service: Passenger, Captain and Researcher. The high fidelity prototypes of the interfaces should be able to access them through the current web page for testing.
- The “Passenger” user must be able to use the VR interface to see the 360° camera transmission on a web browser or a mobile device (Android and iOS, both supported). This user must not control the ROV, but must be able to see the deepness , compass, pressure and temperature on the VR image.
- The “Captain” user must control the ROV through web browser GUI in a single full screen using the keyboard or a generic joystick or using a tablet (iOS or Android) with touchscreen or Bluetooth joysticks. Besides, all the navigation information must be visible on the perimeter of the full screen image, updating its content without any need of refreshing the window. The crew must see the data of deepness, compass, pressure, temperature, humidity sensors and mic.
- The “Researcher” must not be able to control the ROV but must have access to all sensors data (compass, depth, pressure, temperature, PH, salinity, humidity and mic) and cameras.
- The recording of the cameras must be saved on a cloud server and available.
- All users must be able to mute the audio from the ROV and control the volume.
- Harvest solar energy on lithium batteries for the product operation (floating module and ROV).
- Store and deploy the ROV while not in use.
- Operate with a 4G or 5G modem with WiFi capabilities.
- Waterproof container for all electrical components.
- Mechanism to release and retract an anchor.
- Design a mechanism that release and retract the ROV’s umbilical cord while it operates.
- Integrate a GPS system to track the floating module location.
- 360° Full HD or 4K video camera streaming with VR function.
- Perimetral bumpers to keep the structure safe.
- Lights and reflectors to locate the module during the night.
ROV | Drone
- Operate at least 50m of deepness.
- Use thrusters for movement, allowing six degrees of freedom. Include one 360° Full HD or 4K livestream video camera with VR function.
- One or two additional Full HD or 4K video cameras can be added if needed for navigation.
- Underwater LED lights per each camera’s lenses.
- Sensors: IMU, compass, depth, pressure, temperature, PH, salinity, humidity (inside the ROV) and mic.
- Vacuum air sealing.
- The umbilical cord must be detachable.
- The ROV must be reactive – through sensors – to its environment.
- They must prevent or alert of any collision derived from a mistake from the Captain user.
- Have a base that allows the ROV to rest on the ocean floor.
- A space/grip to attach a hook to pull it back to the surface if the thrusters stop working.
Stay tuned for more details regarding our 3 main units in future blog posts…
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