A dream to discover lost wrecks on the seafloor - Japanese underwater dronist Atsushi Fujita

This July, the world all heard about how approximately $124 million worth of treasure from a Spanish Armada ship that sank off the Florida coast 300 years ago had been discovered. This story even got picked up by the major Japanese news outlets, reaching to the ears of many in Japan.

Lots of people may also remember during last March in 2015, Microsoft co-founder and investor Paul Allen found the second Yamato-type Japanese navel warship, the “Musashi”, in the Filipino Sibiyan Sea.

The driving force behind these successive discoveries of sunken shipwrecks and the treasures held within is the development of diving technology.

And at the forefront of that technology is the “underwater drone”.

When you hear the word “drone”, you probably think of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), but there are many different definitions for drones which are also sometimes defined as “robots moving without a pilot inside.”

Many startup companies are currently in the process of developing underwater drones, which are due to go on sale from around 2016.

And there is one Japanese man who is using these underwater drones to try and find unknown ruins on the sea floor. That’s Atsushi Fujita.

As Mr. Fujita manages his IT and real estate companies, he is also focusing on initiatives for finding wrecks on the ocean bottom.

However, underwater drones are not only being used for looking for ships and ruins, but are also used in things such as ocean surveys to safely collect data from dangerous areas. Just as drones that fly in the sky have the potential to cause a “democratization of the sky”, underwater drones have the potential to bring about “democratization of the sea.”

The underwater drone that Mr. Fujita uses is an open source model called OpenROV. The OpenROV is a drone that is still in development, but it’s thought that the knowledge gained from it can be used in the next generation of underwater drones. Mr. Fujita says that he would like to challenge himself to finding wrecks in the Bermuda and Baltic seas in the future.

Check out the video above to see just how drones move and for Mr. Fujita’s comments on the potential of underwater drones.

Translated by Caley Radford




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