Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2022.


Mechanical Engineering; Computer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Christopher Kitts


The exploration of our underwater ecosystems is critical. The aquatic ecosystem has a significant effect on human life, yet our understanding of the oceanic environment is severely lacking. Santa Clara University’s Robotic Systems Lab contributes to subsea exploration through its investment in remotely operated vehicle (ROV) technology. This project was done with the guidance of not only professors in the Robotics Systems Lab, but also stakeholders from the US Geological Survey scientists and researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Our team goal was to further advance SCU’s efforts by creating a sediment sample collection system consisting of a manipulator arm and sample storage container compatible with an existing SCU ROV. Our project has the potential to give researchers better access to submerged ecosystems and assists their efforts to understand and protect subsea environments in the future. We designed, built, and tested a prototype of a multiple degree-of-freedom arm and storage system for the existing Nautilus ROV, for safely manipulating and storing submerged sedimentary artifacts at 300 feet deep with a maximum dive time of 45 minutes. At the end of this project, we were able to see robust three degree of freedom movement of the arm within its anticipated workspace. We achieved a basic level of motion control of the arm which was successfully tested and evaluated within a testing tank. However, there is still need for additional testing and increased functionality of the mechanical and controls systems. The storage system for samples design needs a thrust bearing to better rotate and there is still much work to make the controls of the arm user friendly such as end effector control for depositing a sample into the storage system instead of doing all the movements manually.