SharkCam is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), a swimming robot that is preprogrammed to carry out a specific set of instructions, or mission, without a human pilot. Specifically, SharkCam is a REMUS 100 (an acronym for Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS). At about 80 pounds, 5 feet long, and usable to depths of up to 328 feet, REMUS can be adapted with a variety of sensors based on a mission’s requirements. For the SharkCam version of REMUS 100, the vehicle is programmed to communicate with a transponder tag that is attached to a shark.

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The Propulsion System
The REMUS tail has an aluminum propeller and four fins: two rudders (orange) for steering and two pitch fins (black) for diving and climbing.

Magnetic Power Switch
The vehicle is powered on and off by slipping a magnetic “key” into this slot. This sort of system is also used under water by Navy Seals.

Main Housing
Home to the main electronics of the vehicle, including the motherboard, the GPS board, the CT board, the modem, and rechargeable batteries.

The Lifting Bail
Basically a handle to pick up the vehicle. Two people can easily lift REMUS out of the water in smaller boats, but from larger boats with decks high above the waterline, a crane can hook onto the lifting bail for easy launch and recovery.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP)
An important navigation sensor on the vehicle. It emits sound wave “pings” that change shape when they hit particles in the water. The waves either compress or stretch out when they hit particles moving toward or away from the ADCP. The sound waves bounce back to the ADCP, giving the vehicle data to measure the speed of surrounding currents and the vehicle’s speed over the seafloor.

ACOMMS Transducer
This portion acts as the “ears and voice” of REMUS, sending and receiving acoustic signals or “pings.” These coded pings report the vehicle’s location and status to scientists on a surface ship every 10 to 20 seconds. Scientists can also send commands from the ship to change speed, depth, or location, for example.

Electronics Housing
Home for the electronics for REMUS's main Ultra Short Base Line navigation system.

SharkCam Module
The nose of REMUS is the actual “SharkCam” part—a white camera housing that holds a GoPro camera on the port and starboard sides, the front, and, in the next-generation version, the bottom.

Front Pivot Camera
This camera can be manually pivoted 45 degrees based on how the researchers think they may approach the sharks.

The Omni-directional Ultra Short Base Line (OUSBL)
This navigation system uses sound waves to communicate with the transponder attached to the shark. REMUS sends acoustic sound “pings” to the transponder. The OUSBL can receive return “pings” from the transponder, coming from any direction, to determine the shark’s range, bearing, and depth.

Modular Endcap
Sensors in the front end plug in here for power and to communicate with the rest of the vehicle. It includes a Conductivity-Temperature Sensor (CT) that monitors seawater density, which affects how fast REMUS’s sound “pings” travel. REMUS continuously collects data and adjusts location information accordingly.

REMUS GoPro Camera
REMUS 100 has been equipped with this camera on prior expeditions, but it had a special role in the SharkCam project. While the camera on the front end can get footage of sharks, it doesn’t show REMUS in the shot. This camera gave Big Wave Productions and viewers images of the vehicle filming the shark.

Underwater LED
These lights were used in an early testing phase in which shark scientist Greg Skomal mimicked a shark by riding an underwater scooter with the transducer attached. This light helped Skomal see REMUS in New England’s murky waters.

Used for GPS, Wi-Fi and the Iridium satellite phone system that works anywhere in the world. REMUS can be programmed to surface periodically, get a GPS fix, and make an Iridium call home with its location. The Wi-Fi allows engineers to download information collected by the vehicle wirelessly without having to plug in a cable.