I would like to automatically control my ROV's (underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle's) heading, pitch (and possibly roll).  Since GPS doesn't work underwater, I'll need to use a compass that outputs heading, pitch and roll such as this one:  http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8960 .  Communications to the ROV will be by either serial or ethernet.  The vehicle will be stationary when auto head, pitch, roll are engaged, and I plan on using 4 thrusters for maneuvering.

I initially thought to use a Pico ITX motherboard onboard the ROV and some code that talks to a serial servo controller.  Then I started to look at using an Arduino and then wondered if this might be done with an ArduPilot?

So is this possible?  If so how difficult will it be to achieve and where do I start?

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I know, but how do you control the sub? Is it all autonomous?
Not autonomous, fully manual at present. Auto heading is useful to hold the sub's heading while working in current so I was considering using ArduPilot for this.
Here is another idea to consider on a underwater ROV. The GPS signal can be recieved to a surface vessel and sonar waves can travel to and from an ROV. You could use a system similar to that used by GPS and create your own water bourn grid of sattelite transmitters to triangulate positions. For example: syncronize three signals to a common time base that transmits out a sonar pulse from 3 separate locations. Sample the time delay to the ROV and thereby determine position. Run this signal through a program that compares your boat's GPS position to that of the ROV and you can easily transfer through mediums.

All fluids have a speed of propagation. Whether it be air, water or some other medium. Sonar pulses can be coded to lock out other, spurious, noise and these signals can be decoded similar to the way RC signals are decoded. The floating transmitters could actually be quite small to be effective. Look at the size of a standard fish locator. The transmitter would be quite similar and multiplexing signals is simple on the surface where radio waves can be used.
Interesting concept.

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