On Drones, Caves and the Ocean.

My fascination of drones is growing day after day. Of all the areas drones can be used, I want to talk about exploration for the moment. You might be wondering, what exploration? All corners of the Earth have been explored and there's nothing else to discover. Au Contraire. Correction. The surface of the Earth has been explored, not what's underneath.

NASA and other space organizations have been sending out satellites and telescopes to understand what's out there but similar efforts aren't being made to understand unexplored caves and the depths of the ocean.

Two articles that I read recently drove this point home for me; one on exploring a cave formation in Uzbekistan and another on exploring the Indian Ocean's floor. The first is an account of a team of scientists' and explorers' attempt at exploring a cave formation and discovering new regions of the cave. The second is an account of how the search for the missing MH370 flight also led to a detailed study of the ocean floor, the most detailed study of it's kind at that depth. The first is an account of human exploration. The second of robotic exploration.

Don't you think it'd be awesome to have drones explore the caves for us? Bonus points if the drone is autonomous and has capability to map the cave using SONAR/LIDAR. The drone scanning the ocean floor could also benefit from being autonomous, as the costs would reduce, thanks to lesser man power needed in operating and supporting the operation.

My dream scenario if where the underwater drone is autonomous and self-reliant i.e. it isn't tethered to any above water vessel for power. When the underwater drone's starts running low on power, it will surface to meet it's partner above water. The partner above water is also autonomous and uses solar and wind energy to travel and store power. The partner can charge the underwater drone and send it back on it's mission to the ocean's depths.

All of this involves a lot of hardware work, which I am not familiar with. Maybe one day, I will get my hands dirty. Maybe one day, I will have the necessary discipline to begin and experiment with prototypes for both cave and ocean exploring drones.

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