Fighting Climate Change with Robots

by Athan Bourganos
(Stonington, Connecticut, USA)

ROV Rendering

ROV Rendering

An Introduction

Climate change, while having an obvious and brutal impact on our atmosphere, effects our oceans with an even greater magnitude. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and ecosystem reform are just three of the issues taking our oceans by storm.

Until now, scientists have been limited to expensive, stationary machines that stay at sea for short periods of only a few months at a time to take samples and relay data. Now a new horizon has opened up, bridging the areas of sea exploration and robotics with environmental activism.


An ROV, as many of you may already know, is a remotely operated vehicle, most commonly in use underwater. In the past, these machines have been used for exploration and discovery by large organizations with deep pockets.

Deep water ROVs (with costs in the hundreds of thousands) are responsible for the discovery of the RMS Titanic and other lost vessels.
Now that start-ups from around the country have made certain ROV components available to the private sector for lower rates, the technology of underwater vehicles is starting to become popular.

Project Sentinel

Recently I, Athan Bourganos of Stonington, Connecticut, began a project to construct a personal ROV for environmental purposes.

The initial plan, was to use live camera feed and measurement lazers on the vehicle to observe and collect data on local ecosystems.

Extra information on the marine life along the local coastline would prove useful for environmental committees, as they could use it as evidence against harmful construction projects.

The plan suddenly expanded, and I decided to include extra sensors on the vehicle to measure pH at different depths. The ROV will be able to collect data in real time, and then plot that data to visualize it.

In other words, the ROV will be able to, in one mission, graph the pH of an ecosystem's water.

This data will be relayed to the local shellfish commission and environmental groups, to help the case that ocean acidification IS happening (although some corporate scientists might try to prove otherwise).

The Hurdle to Jump

Constructing an ROV is in my abilities as an amateur engineer, but unfortunately the issue of cost has me in a vice.

My budget is already expended and I require an additional $3000 to pay for pressure-proof parts and surface equipment.

I have started a campaign/fundraising page to bring in the remaining funds, but I need YOUR help to spread the word and help me complete the project. The page is located here, so please check it out.

Why You Should Help and Why This is Important

This project is not only for a small town in Connecticut.

This project is one of citizen science, or the ability of us civilians to go out into the world and collect data to help prove a point: that the environment IS in need of our help. It is important to take environmental out of the private sector and into the public one, to raise awareness of action.

Project Sentinel serves to show communities around the world that it IS possible to follow environmental initiative.

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