Flying drones are extremely common these days, so much so that they’ve had to be banned in many places. It’s easy to understand why they’re so popular: we all want the freedom to soar through the skies and explore nature. But, if you’re really interested in exploring, the oceans and lakes of the world offer far more adventure. The new Picam360 SurfaceWalker is an open source “aquatic drone” that’s designed to make that adventure attainable.
Picam360’s SurfaceWalker unmanned surface vessel recently launched on Kickstarter. It was developed to give enthusiasts a way to explore oceans and lakes, while simultaneously gathering data on the health of coral reefs and cyanobacteria concentrations in lakes. That data could eventually be used to help scientists monitor the health of those ecosystems, and hopefully to enact beneficial change. But, to collect that data on a useful scale, they need a lot of vessels in the water, which is where you come in.
You can purchase a complete SurfaceWalker kit for ¥150,000 (about $1,317 USD), which includes everything you need to take to the seas. The SurfaceWalker vehicle resembles a small surfboard, and the urethane foam body is naturally buoyant. On the top is a 100W solar panel that provides enough power for operation during the daytime.
The bottom has a 360° panoramic camera to look beneath the surface of the water, and a small propeller and rudder for propulsion and steering. The brain of SurfaceWalker is a Raspberry Pi, and the craft can be controlled via direct WiFi connection to your smartphone, through a 3G connection, or with an RC transmitter. Autonomous navigation is also under development.
If you want to back the Picam360 SurfaceWalker, head over to the Kickstarter page. The campaign is running until December 20th, and rewards are expected to ship in February 2019.