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Coral Reef Mapping Drone

An open source ocean water drone used for mapping and analyzing the health of coral reefs


What are we doing ?

DIY Droner Video

But, what exactly is this?

Basically, we want to design and fabricate an ocean robot, think remote control boat but that has high quality cameras for capturing what’s under the surface and then the ability to set it to autonomous cruise mode and our sailing robot will return after 3 hours with lots of images of coral reefs for scientists to analyse. Whats’ more is that our robot will be able to analyse the coral itself with onboard A.I features.


This collection of complicated stuff on the table will coalesce into an ocean robot that will be able to produce images of coral reefs just like the one you can see here.


Why are we doing this?

Coral reefs are essential to healthy coasts and vibrant economies, playing a critical role in everything from protecting lives and property to supporting thousands of businesses. Climate change is the biggest threat to the world’s coral reefs, causing mass bleaching, among other things.

Office for Coastal Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Coral Reefs

The third global bleaching event, from 2014 to 2017, brought mass bleaching-level heat stress to more than 75 percent of global reefs; nearly 30 percent also suffered mortality level stress. This bleaching event was the longest, most widespread, and most destructive on record. State of the Climate 2017

“There are efforts to use drones or satellites to collect this information, but you cannot get the high resolution needed to assess the vital complex architecture of reefs unless you are in the water,” Joleah Lamb -World Economic Forum

What exactly are we aiming for?

Goal: we map coral reefs + we collect metadata

Subject: we focus on shallow water coral reef <10m depth

Price: we want to make it affordable enough <2500USD

Usability: deployable from the beach with an autonomy >90 minutes

Target users: ocean scientist, citizen scientist, coastal community, Marine protected area manager


How are we doing it?

Firstly we are 100% open source, so that means we will publish all plans, CAD files, build instructions on GitHub and anyone is free to download the materials and make thier own Coral Reef Mapping Drone.

Secondly we are conducting something that we call “Social RnD” in which we invite talented and enthusiastic professionals from the community who collaborate by donating their time and skills.


Not everyone has the same skill sets or interests, so depending on your skills and in which area you would like to contribute we are spitting up into working groups.

5 design areas:

1. Product Design:

Mechanical design - Fabrication - Manufacturing - 3D printing - Laser Cutting

2. Electronic Design

Optics - Sourcing of hardware components - Testing hardware - Hardware integration - Soldering

3. Software Design

Coding -I.T - U.I - U.X

4. Artificial Intelligence

Machine Learning - Computer Vision - Coral Classifier

5. Marine Biology

Coral identification - Environmental Data Collection

So, depending what you want to learn or how you want to contribute you should join one of these working groups. Below the design areas are expenaded into varios skills and sub areas that we will be focusing on.


How can you contribute and participate ?

Sign Up - Read Up - Show Up

Step 1: Sign-Up

Create a user account on GitHub Join and send your user name us: and or and we will add you to the Github team.

Step 2: Read-Up

Do a little background research. Don’t worry it’s not too much, just to get you up to speed, we have prepared some links for you to browse through.

Our latest release on GitHub Check out our current prototype so you know exactly what stage we are up to.

Hong Kong Ocean Youth. For a bit of context this Ocean Drone project is part of broader community program that we are also running.

Chasing Coral Trailer. For a global context of the problem you can even watch the movie Chasing Coral

Chasing Coral Full Feature Film. If you’re lucky YouTube may still be streaming the feature length film for free !

Scoutbots. This is a forebearer project made by some of our team.

Midorobots. This is another forebearer project made by some of our team.

Instructables:Scoutbot Kuching Robotic Boat. Urm yeah, this is another one.

Instructables:Laser Quadrat for Coral Reef Mapping. Yup, this was also us.

“Shout out” to Eddie Yung, Ken Chew, Sidhant Gupta and Cesar Jung-Harada who are the creators of aforementioned projects.

How to “Github” This README was specifically made to know how to document this project on Github

Learn some of the basics on GitHub. Check out this link for some quick cheats on how to use and document on GitHub.

GitHub Readme Images Tutorial. Look at this video for how to place images and size them in Github README files.

Project managment. Browse our internal project managment doccument for things like a Road-Map / Feature List, Timeline, Purchasing List, Components Wish-list, etc.

Step 3: Show-Up

The third and final step is to join our next meeting either in person or on the world wide web!

3 PM - 6 PM - MakerBay - Every Saturday

Every Saturday from now, April 2020, untill Septemeber 2020 we will be hosting “DIY Droner Saturday sessions” at our MakerBay HQ in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. These sesssions it will be very hands-on, dynamic and fun.

Every “DIY Droner Saturday session” may be a little unique depending what stage of the design process, however typically we will start at 3 PM sharp and have 30 minute meeting with the online participants, after this we will split into sub teams and get practical o the tasks dicussed in the meeting. At 5.30 PM we re-group and share the progress made, then if you want to hang around for then we can alll try to insert the ‘Social’ into ‘Soical RnD’.

Find us here


Can’t join us offline? We will also be hosting these sessions online so email us and will give you the meeting link

Project Overview

Coral Reef Mapping Drone on Github Intro Video

Sub Teams

Hardware / Mechanical, 3D printing

Michael, Paul, Ming, Brad, Abbas

Electric, Electronics

Cesar, Matthew, Alvaro, Abhinandan

IT, Software, UX/UI

Adel, Matthew, Celine, Philippe

AI, Biology

Sanjeew, Maxine, Kamakshi, Nicholas