New drone concept promises a voyage to the bottom of the sea

Matt Gira and his merry team of collegiate innovators, tinkerers and entrepreneurs are working on a cool, new project combining drone technology with practical, consumer applications.

Gira and his team of Danny Vessells, John Boss and Matt Webb are juniors at Hope College. They've been working with the school's Center for Faithful Leadership (CFL) program for over two years on a variety of ventures.

The current product that has Gira and CFL advisor Seth Getz excited is an underwater drone called Fathom. Gira describes the concept: "Fathom is a drone that allows for any research team, fisherman, diver or curious individual to explore the waters around them."  

Gira says the drone is designed to be easy to use, with the ability to control it from a smartphone or smart device while displaying a live video feed on the screen. "Additionally, its biomimetic motion makes it very intuitive to use, as well as making it move more naturally in the water, like a fish rather than a robot," says Gira.

The product is in the early stages of development. The team has 3D printed a model, and Gira says it's getting closer to working. "The camera works; we're still figuring out the movement part of it," he says. "Lots of programming going on right now for the internals of Fathom and for the app that will be the controls. We're hoping in the next few months to be in the water testing it out. Earliest I would say is May, but we'll definitely be launching this summer."

Gira's goal is to keep the cost around $500 which he feels is a feasible price point for commercialization. The team has secured partial funding for development through a collegiate business competition and they have applied to StartGarden and plan on a summer Kickstarter campaign.  

Getz says the product reminds him of another recent gadget that is now extremely popular.  "It's easy to see a comparison between this product and the GoPro product," he says. "They are developing this with extreme ease of use in mind and at a price point that will potentially make it the must-have product for the water-based enthusiast."

To learn more about Fathom, you can visit their website here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor.
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