Starts at $3,995; www.aquabotix.com
I believe that this gentleman—Durval Tavares, the founder and president of Aquabotix—earned that grin the hard way. It’s no surprise that getting something as complex as a “remote-controlled underwater camera vehicle” with an iPad interface to market would be a challenge, but when I visited the company HQ I was impressed with just how many details and disciplines are in play behind the scenes. I was also impressed with the cheerful, collaborative work environment Tavares and his team have created and I quite enjoyed taking my first HydroView driving lesson in the factory test pool.
I first saw (and wrote about) the prototype HydroView at the Newport show in September 2011, then I tested the company’s other underwater cam (AquaLens) last spring, and if it weren’t for Hurricane Sandy I would have tried the ROV in Fort Lauderdale.
This HydroView is getting its final inspection and by the time I took the photo I understood some of the changes that evolved since the prototype. You can see, for instance, how the side thrusters are now modular, which makes the molding easier and also facilitates repair and/or replacement. I got a particular kick out of how Aquabotix is using a classic and still rugged ¼-inch monaural “phono jack” to make the power connection between the ROV’s serious internal circuitry and the Swiss-built prop motors.
Finally, I’m happy to report that unit number 134 is on loan to Panbo. Note the standalone design; the batteries in the ROV itself power the topside Wi-Fi box through the 75-foot cable and thus you only need to plug the power brick into the box to recharge the batteries. In fact, I hardly needed even the two-page quick-start guide (though there is a thorough manual as well). Plug in the box, turn it on (the ROV reassuringly blinks its LED headlights as it boots up), find the Hydro134 hot spot with your iPad, fire up the app, and you’re ready to fly.
The HydroView app is much more sophisticated than the prototype, or even the version illustrated on the Aquabotix site, but I’ll detail all that after I test the ROV, hopefully in both the lake and harbor. The technology makes me grin like Durval Tavares, though without having to do all the development work first.
This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.