Researchers at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica will soon be able to safely study beach-ball sized jellyfish and other strange aquatic species thanks to a new remotely operated vehicle (ROV) designed in SolidWorks® 3D CAD and COSMOS® design analysis software. The device will allow researchers, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, to learn more about marine life at great depths in one of the most extreme habitats on the planet.
Diving in water temperatures dropping to four degrees below zero is dangerous and limited to only a 10-mile radius of the year-round scientific community at McMurdo Station. Dive holes can freeze over, currents can be difficult to swim against, and divers can only safely swim to 130 feet deep. But to study ecosystems deeper in the ocean and farther away from the base, scientists needed to develop an ROV. Chief Engineer Robert Zook purchased SolidWorks Office Premium from authorized SolidWorks reseller GoEngineer, who shipped the software to Zook in the Antarctic. With GoEngineer's guidance and SolidWorks tutorials, Zook taught himself how to design an ROV that will allow engineers to study the ocean floor 1,000 feet deep and further away from McMurdo before donning dry suits.
"Our location means we often have to be jacks of all trades, learning new skills on our own," said Zook. "I drove myself crazy trying to figure out AutoCAD. When it became apparent it would take too long to learn how to design what I needed, I tried SolidWorks. Within a couple of days I was able to take a part, throw holes in it, slice it open, and look inside to see where the voids and key stress points were. SolidWorks allowed me to create a completely different ROV for our environment. We'll be able to see things no one else has seen up close."
The Submersible Capable of under Ice Navigation and Imaging (SCINI) has motors and a long umbilical cord that will let it go much deeper than human divers, while its high resolution camera will provide detailed images of the ocean floor and experiments first begun 30 years ago. "The SCINI had to be portable and modular so that if something broke down, we could easily fix it on the ice," said Zook. "SolidWorks made designing the complex motors and wiring straightforward and free from errors."
Zook used COSMOSWorks® Designer (included in SolidWorks Office Premium) to ensure the PVC piping that makes up the SCINI's exterior stands up to 500 pounds per square inch of pressure in the depths of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. COSMOSWorks Designer also lets him ensure the seals between different modules don't fail under intense pressure in the ocean depths. He uses eDrawings® e-mail-enabled design communication tool to share designs with manufacturers in the U.S. to ensure accuracy. Zook expects to begin testing the SCINI in May.
"Robert Zook is a great example of someone in the field who took some significant challenges head-on and designed a better product than what was commercially available," said SolidWorks' Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Rainer Gawlick. "Hopefully, the SCINI will shed new light on an ecosystem that we are only beginning to understand."
Zook uses authorized SolidWorks reseller GoEngineer for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.