OpenROV Trident Underwater Drone Kickstarter Update

Kickstarter update by Eric Stackpole from underwater drone company OpenROV on the Trident, you can find their earlier version of the underwater drone on Wevolver.

We’re now through the first part of our Design Validation Testing (DVT) process and have entered the next stage: building Trident using our entire assembly line. Over the next few weeks, we’ll produce 100 units which we plan to use as part of a beta program to validate the robustness of our assembly process and get feedback from new people out in the field. Production will ramp up from there, building off the feedback we get from this beta program. As always, we will continue to communicate regularly about what we’re learning.

The Longer Story:
As you may have read in our previous update, we found numerous issues with the initial iterations of our injection molded parts and we worked hard to iron those issues out. After the fourth (T4) iteration still came back with unacceptable flaws, we decided to move our injection molding tool to a different factory. The parts from the new factory now meet our stringent requirements, and although it cost us some time, we’re very happy we made the switch.

Using these new parts, we’ve been able to bring our manufacturing line online. We’ve also been continuously refining our MPI (Manufacturing Processing Instructions), which dictate the procedures and sequencing for each assembly step. Making sure this procedure is laid out correctly is critical to producing a quality product, so we’ve been working very closely with our manufacturer to develop and validate each step. We are now to the point where a vehicle can be built reliably without supervision or input from our engineering team, and we’ve been really happy with how well the manufacturing team has done following our process.

We want to make sure that the Tridents we ship are as well-built as possible, so not rushing the beta testing is important. We’re also very aware that many people have specific uses for Trident that are time sensitive and would like to get theirs as soon as possible. As always, if you have specific timeline needs please don’t hesitate to email If you are interested in taking part in the beta program, please let us know here.

Controlling Trident
In our last update, we mentioned that we would be testing a variety of different devices that can be used to control Trident. As we described before, most modern Android devices will work well, but we also wanted to make some specific recommendations for people who are considering getting a dedicated controller for Trident.

Tablets used for in-house testing

We’ll expand this list as we test more devices over time, but here are three tablets that we’ve tested and have been satisfied with so far:

Low-end: ASUS ZenPad 8
Mid-range: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0
High-end: Google Pixel C

Based on feedback we got from the last update, we’ve also continued to look into a type of controller that would have built-in joysticks, longer battery life, and would come preloaded with our OpenROV Cockpit software. Once this device is validated and we have an understanding of cost and lead time, we’ll post more details about it.

We’ve gotten requests from many of our backers asking to add accessories to their order, so as we get ready to ship the first units out we’ll send a survey that includes options to buy those things (longer tether, hard case, controller, etc.).

Open House and Beta Expeditions
Not all of the beta units will go to individuals. In an effort to expand the amount of feedback we get, we’re planning to organize and host a series of beta expeditions, so everyone has an early opportunity to come try Trident out in a meaningful way.

To start, we are hosting an open house at our headquarters in Berkeley on October 7th. This will be a great chance not only to fly Trident, but also to meet our team and others in the OpenROV community. We’re hoping to get lots of user feedback and learn more about what people plan to do with Trident. If you’d like to visit our open house, please RSVP here!

We’re really excited to be preparing to send Tridents out into the wild. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re glad we’ve been able to stay sure-footed as we’ve navigated the challenges that have popped up along the way.

Thank you for sticking with us.

Eric Stackpole

David Lang & Eric Stackpole from OpenROV


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