3D Robotics


Good news from Blue Robotics: they've crossed the final(?) frontier and ArduPilot is now underwater. Welcome ArduSub! (In historic progression since the founding of the project it was Plane, Copter, Rover, Boat and now Sub) 

All details are here, but this is the summary:

Firmware for Remote-Operated and Autonomous Capabilities in Underwater Vehicles

The ArduSub project is a fully-featured, open-source controller for remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). Based on the popular ArduCopter code, the ArduSub code has extensive capabilities out of the box including feedback stability control, depth and heading hold, and autonomous position control if provided with position feedback.

ArduSub is designed to be safe, feature-rich, open-ended, and easy to use even for novice users.

System Components

  • A PixHawk or other DroneCode-compatible autopilot loaded with the latest version of the ArduSub firmware.
  • QGroundControl software for setup, configuration, and operation of the vehicle.
  • suitable ROV or AUV for use with the software
  • Many other useful additions: depth sensors, tether communications, cameras, and other sensors and actuators



  • ArduSub currently supports two frame configurations:
    • BlueROV 6DOF Frame: Maneuvers with unique 6 degree-of-freedom control
    • Vectored w/ Side-by-Side Vertical Thrusters: Provides excellent smooth control and stability
    • Vectored w/ Corner Vertical Thrusters: Provides excellent smooth control, stability, and 6-DOF control
  • In the future, other frame types will be supported, such as:
    • 3 and 4 thrusters arranged with two thrusters for forward/turn and one or two for vertical
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  • Rustom,

    I am looking at building a 4 thrustered platform that will work at the surface of the water so will have GPS as position input. 

    You mentioned that as the Ardusub firmware is based on the Arducopter that the code to follow mission planned lines is still there. 

    How can I activate this to try and see if the "sub" will follow lines correctly? As I understand it the only available flight modes are manual, stabilize and depth hold.

    Many thanks for any info you can provide here.

    Best regards and keep up the amazing work.


  • @Fnoop - That could work but there would definitely be a big lag between ROV movement and GPS movement and the tether would have to stay fairly tight.

  • @Rustom - what about a tethered gps that floats on the surface (maybe the sub would need to 'fly' at a consistent depth)?  It wouldn't be terribly accurate as it would drag behind at a varying rate but probably good enough with a bit of trial and error?

    I have friends that are into marine biology so I'm always thinking about ways to apply these cool new technologies to research.

  • @Fnoop - The code is all there to do that since this is based on Copter. The issue is that GPS doesn't work underwater and it's pretty tough to get good position feedback. If we can integrate a good way to do that (USBL, DVL, imaging sonar + localization are all possibilities), then it should work!

    We could probably do simple autonomous missions that just require depth and heading changes as well.

  • This is awesome.  Is it capable of autonomous 'flight', say to follow something with a beacon or to do automated transects?

  • I was going to contribute to the OpenROV Project, so that I could get one for myself. But after seeing this thread, I will definitely be buying an ROV from BlueRobotics.... Thanks for sharing it....

  • I so want to get my neighbor to try this.  He's big time into diving, and an awesome engineer. (ie: he not only compresses and mixes his own gases, he built his compressor/mixer system).

  • @Hugues - One of the biggest additions to ArduSub so far is a 6-degree-of-freedom motor library that allows motors to have contributions to roll, pitch, yaw, up/down, and forward/backward, left/right, which are not included in the Copter code. I think that would probably help with a blimp, especially if you have direct propulsion in the forward or lateral directions.

  • MR60

    Could ardusub code be used for a blimp ?

  • @Rustom, I see it now, was hard to see that one from the pictures.  Thanks!

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