A computer-based control system from Opto 22 was at the heart of the Deepsea Challenger, the submersible used by James Cameron when he made his successful solo descent of almost seven miles to the ‘Challenger Deep’, the deepest point in the world’s oceans. The dive marked the return of humans to the bottom of the Mariana Trench after an absence of over 50 years.
The system onboard the submersible, which was built by Australia-based Acheron Project Pty., controls and monitors more than 180 onboard systems such as sensors, batteries, thrusters, life support, and lighting.
Advances in materials science, battery technology, and electrical and computer systems resulted in a mobile ‘science platform’ capable of descending to the sea floor in two hours, spending hours exploring, and then returning to the surface in just over an hour. The submersible is equipped with multiple cameras, including 3D video cameras, a tower of LED lights, and robotic claws and other apparatus to collect samples of rocks and sea creatures.
Cameron’s record-setting dive was backed by a team of engineers, scientists, educators, and journalists, including an on-site technical liaison from Opto 22, application engineer Benjamin Orchard, who worked with the submersible builder to integrate the Opto 22 control system into the sub. In addition, a team of programmers and electrical engineers at Opto 22 headquarters in Temecula, CA, helped with custom programming, system design, and troubleshooting.
David Wotherspoon, project manager with Acheron Project Pty., commented: “Opto 22 provided an advanced submersible, Deepsea Challenger, with a reliable control system that performed above my expectations.”