Raspberry Pi Helps Submarine Simulator Explore for Wildlife

Tom Scott drives a Raspberry Pi powered submarine simulator
(Image credit: Tom Scott / YouTube)

You can find tons of simulation games on the market today, ranging from tractors to goats, but there’s an entirely different side of simulators that is far more immersive. Today we’re sharing with you an extraordinary creation put together by a team known as The Explorandia Association. This team has developed a wonderful submarine simulator that takes you through an actual pond in real time with a bit of help from a Raspberry Pi 3B.

They call the project the Bathysphere, which requires a crew of 3 to 7 people to operate. Members of the crew board a small enclosure designed to resemble a submarine cockpit. YouTuber and tech expert Tom Scott recently took a trip to Italy to check out this submarine simulator in person. They even had the opportunity to take a spin in the captain’s chair—although most of the controls are actually handled by the team sitting behind the captain.

This is just a working prototype that’s taken the Explorandia Association years to put together. It works much like the 1970s tank simulator we covered not long ago. The team sits inside the realistic cockpit and drives a separate mechanism with visual feedback provided on a screen. This creates the illusion of navigating through a pond inside a submarine.

The experience is much more than just hopping in and taking a spin. There’s a full-on bootup sequence that simulates the cabin pressurizing and even an animation that plays on the screen to give the crew the impression they’ve been miniaturized before getting dropped inside the pond. Not only do you experience the visual effects, but the entire cabin will also move and rock with each movement of the simulated submarine thanks to a series of electric motors.

The crew is surrounded by various screens, dials and gauges, as well as controls that you’d find in a real submarine. Scott was surprised to experience an emergency in which he had to respond to an alarm by repairing a reactor core before getting back to piloting around the pond. When it was time to see how everything works, he discovered a Raspberry Pi was responsible for the visual input. It’s connected to a Logitech webcam with a pan/tilt function that drops into a pond, moving along a track from a giant 3-dimensional plotter capable of XYZ movement.

This is one Raspberry Pi project you must see for yourself. You can read about it on the Explorandia Association website and get a behind-the-scenes look at Tom Scott’s latest video.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.