ACC has program that blends drones and ROVs

ALPENA — Alpena Community College student Nick Adamiak found a way to converge his love of water and technology.

The 17-year-old Alpena student is part of the marine tech program at the college. He and other students spent part of their day, Friday at the Rockport State Recreation Area. The marine tech class merged forces with ACC instructor Brian Dawson to use drones and the UAS Mobile Command Unit in their efforts.

“Because I’ve grown up around here I’ve always loved the water. I think it’s cool to think about what lies underwater. I also think you learn a lot of good skills with piloting. This class helps you to learn how to work around water,” Adamiak said.

Marine technology instructor David Cummins said the day was hands-on use of the ROVS by the students.

“We’re doing some more experimenting using the mobile command center and it’s one of the first times coupling it with aerial drones to get a bird’s eye view of what we’re doing. So as the pilot flies someone in the van can look over a monitor and see the camera view of the drone, see where the underwater robot is. Then at any interest point in the water, easily pilot over it and using the underwater robot looking at what the object really is,” Cummins said.

He said typically they use drones to find points of interest.

“A point of interest is just ‘Hey, what’s that.’ By using the aerial footage fed to the pilot they can drive the underwater robot to point of interest and with their camera look at it and say ‘Oh yah that’s really cool. That’s this. Or, oh that’s just a big rock,'” Cummins said.

Then they also have sonar they can use to measure how far they are from object.

“This field they’re coupling ROVs and drones together. By taking the drones in and with a college having that technology and the underwater robots, see how to use them together and learn how to couple them together. We’re really impressed with the outcome today,” Cummins said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.