The main reason that the deep sea is so unexplored is that the equipment needed to explore it is very expensive. To make the deep sea more accessible, the LOBSTER Explorer needs to be affordable. We did this by identifying the problems that causes ROV’s (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to be so expensive and designing solutions for them.
The first problem is that the electronics are not resistant to seawater. This is currently solved by housing the electronics in thick metal hulls. However, the pressure in the deep sea is hundreds of times greater than the pressure inside on these air filled hulls. This pressure difference creates a large force on these hulls which requires them to be bulky and thick. Instead we use thin hulls filled with non-conductive fluids to minimise compression and keep the pressure difference low while still protecting the electronics from the seawater. This averts these forces and allows for a thin, light and inexpensive hull.
The second problem is the need to manually control the robot. ROVs are often used in multimillion dollar projects where it is preferred to have a human in the chain for its judgement. These ROVs are heavy and can potentially do a lot of damage. The problem is that wireless communication becomes more difficult the deeper a robot dives. To communicate with an ROV a tether is used that connects the ROV to the ship. This requires that the ship is kept in place which uses a lot of fuel. Our team is working hard to create a system that is able to navigate autonomously and minimise the risk of harming itself or its surrounding.
The third problem is the requirement of facilities. A lot of facilities are needed to to deploy, retrieve or transport an ROV because they weights about the same as a car. This requires a large initial investment together with ongoing costs of operation assuming the ship is even suitable for these facilities. This is yet another investment that needs to be made before one can start exploring the deep sea. Thanks to the lightweight body of the LOBSTER Explorer the need for these facilities is greatly diminished.