Most of the underwater world remains far off the map. For many of the most exciting exploration challenges—from Maya cenotes to urban aquifers to archaeological treasures to coral reefs—map-making remains largely pre-industrial and time consuming. The difficulty and expense of mapping these spaces is a major barrier to storytelling for science, conservation, and stewardship. While many tools exist for open-ocean bathymetry (such as multibeam sonars), cost-effective diver-deployable tools for rapidly mapping complex and enclosed spaces are sorely lacking. Our goal is to create diver-deployable tools that are orders of magnitude faster, more precise, and less expensive than current practice–to enable mapping and imaging of these underwater resources at a societal scale.
To this end we are developing low-cost, high-precision, diver-deployable underwater LIDAR and Depth-Imaging systems—3D scanning and navigation systems with which to quickly, safely, and beautifully map caves, aquifers, coral reefs, sunken cities, and other large-scale underwater spaces. To satisfy scientific and storytelling needs, these devices must be easy to use, have fine spatial resolution, map at swimming speed, produce data in industry-standard formats, and be completely open source at both hardware and software levels.