Underwater Drones and Vehicles (UUV/ROV): Their Impact on the World of Filmmaking and Video

Article written by Mark I. Brodie, President MiB Mediaworks LLC for Robolliance.com

Once upon a time, we were told that space was the final frontier. Generations inspired by explorers and television shows have led to a world where we now know more about the far side of the moon than the expanses that reach beyond our sandy beaches. Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey was set in space, lightyears from any rolling waves where you’ll only find a hungry, great white shark who won’t show up until the end of the movie.

There have been five hundred human beings shot into the cosmos, while only three have visited the Mariana Trench, the deepest known area of the ocean.  Technology, however, may be changing course and as certain realities become viable, so will consumer and corporate interests. This is no more true than in the world of filmmaking and video. While drones currently whir above the horizon, the future of drone and video technology may lie just beneath it and with that likely future, a whole new interest in the exploration of the depths.

UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles) are quickly becoming a consumer’s market and being branded by certain corporations as underwater drones. Several consumer models from different companies have been made available in the last few years. There are two types of UUVs – ROVs (Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles) and AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles). The distinction between the two being ROVs need a human being controlling them from the surface, while AUVs can operate on their own while underwater.

These vehicles open up vast possibilities when it comes to capturing what lies on the ocean floors. Human beings will no longer be required to physically put themselves in an environment that consists of little to no light, extreme pressures, and potentially dangerous wildlife. We will be able to capture things on video that were previously impossible to film. Information will be available to scientists to help increase our knowledge of the planet and relationships between environmental causes and effects.

UUVs will not only change what we see, but how we see it as well. The story of the Titanic is one of infamy, but it never came alive until Robert Ballard found the wreckage in 1985 with an ROV and James Cameron commercialized that know-how by putting Jack and Rose on the bow of the ship with their arms spread open, claiming their kingship over the world. It was this UUV technology that not only led to one of the highest grossing films of all time, but more importantly made it possible to tell the stories of those thousands of individuals who were lost to the frozen depths for nearly a century. This is where the buried treasure truly lies in a world where filmmakers and storytellers are continuously searching for stories worth telling.  Those treasured tales lie in wait, right here on Planet Earth, to be discovered between the coral and crevices, which blanket the ocean floor.

The future of this drone technology is as deep as the ocean itself. It will allow us to explore a world that was never accessible before. It will inspire future generations and filmmakers not just to look to the heavens but to the oft ignored shorelines as well. Not just oceanographers, but consumers alike. UUVs represent a new age of exploration and perhaps we’re not far from a “space race” to the ocean depths given all the resources abundant in undersea environments. UUVs will allow the limit of what we see and how we see it to be limited only by our imaginations.