National Geographic has just teamed up with a gaggle of private philanthropists and supporters to launch what they’ve dubbed the Science Exploration Education (S.E.E.) Initiative, a program that will donate 1,000 underwater drones for ocean exploration starting in 2019. Considering mankind has only actually seen and explored a fraction of the ocean, it’s a pretty big step forward.
OpenROV is the developer of The Trident, a $1,499 underwater drone that’s used by public safety and law enforcement, ocean researchers, and divers. And through the S.E.E. Initiative with National Geographic, researchers, citizen scientists, educators, nonprofits, and students will be able to apply for grants and drones in the Open Explorer program.
“One of the limiting factors for understanding the ocean is the risks, costs, and accessibility issues of experiencing these underwater ecosystems,” says David Lang, co-founder of OpenROV. “Many researchers, citizen scientists and underfunded conservation efforts don’t have the resources to monitor, study and explore. And we need that data to make informed conservation and policy decisions. The S.E.E. Initiative is an effort to empower people of all backgrounds to help tell these ocean stories in a more meaningful way.”
According to the program’s website, anybody who’s a member of Open Explorer is eligible to apply for a drone.
“We need more people exploring the ocean,” says filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large, James Cameron. “We need them to feel the sense of curiosity and wonder that drives all science and exploration. Putting these tools in the hands of scientists, students and educators through the partnership between National Geographic and OpenROV is exciting.”