Coral Reef Monitoring Marine Drone

About: The BCAMRL is a Mechatronics Research Lab, founded in 2014 on the campus of Bergen County Academies, a magnet high school within the Bergen County Technical School District. Students create innovations base...

The project that is being developed is a fish-like marine drone. This drone will swim through coral reefs and monitor their health and stability. It will complete this task using a variety of methods which include a pH sensor, a thermometer, a camera, and potentially more. The fish will be remotely piloted via a ping detector and remote control. The drone will move through water using 3 servo motors. One of these motors is attached to the tail, to provide a swaying motion which propels the fish. The other two motors go on the sides of the fish, which allow the drone to remain stable. The camera records footage of the reefs. Later this footage will be analyzed by a program that was written using the Google vision API. This program detects certain specific conditions and situations. These situations include detecting bleaching, locating certain species, and detecting light levels in the water. The purpose of this is so that any signs of deterioration can be picked up on immediately. The drone is designed to resemble a real fish, as to not disrupt the regular activities of the sea life. Data will be collected from the other sensors as well to make a conclusion about the overall health of the reef. This drone will be able to monitor coral reefs and help maintain their stability. It will be able to open up further conservation efforts and ultimately help save coral reefs.

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Step 1: Gather Materials and Download Software

Parts List:

-Arduino Camera

-Arduino Uno Board

-3 Arduino servo motors

-Software: Autodesk


-Arduino IDE

-Google Vision



-Hot Glue Gun

-3D printer

-PLA Plastic for 3D printer




-Remote Control





- Remote Control

-Metal Cables

Step 2: Cut Out Plexi-Glass Frame

Cut a plexi-glass approximately 24 in. by 5 in. This will serve as the base for the drone

Step 3: Create the Parts Using Autodesk Inventor


-2 small ribs

-2 big ribs

-front nose cone

-camera attaching dome

-two side flippers

-back fin base

-back fin extension

-4 L-Brackets

-Connecting H-Bracket

All part files are attached

Step 4: 3D Print the Parts

Use CURA software to print out the stl files attached to this step

Step 5: Cut Out Hole for Bladder in Plexi-Glass

In the center of the plexi-glass sheet, 12 in. by 3 in. This will serve as the hole where the bladder will be placed

Step 6: Assemble Shell

Put together the parts: plexiglass body with 3D-Printed ribs (5), nose (1), electronics, bladder, servos (3), pectoral fins (2), and caudal fin (1).

Step 7: Configure Electronic Controller

A Feather board was connected to analog sticks that were used to direct the drone's movement up, down, right, and left by controlling the fins.

Step 8: Pump & Bladder

The pump will be utilized to push water in and out of the bladder to allow the drone to float and sink when submerged in water.

Step 9: Surveillance Camera

Camera would be used to monitor any physical alterations in the Coral Reef.



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