Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Ocean Engineering


Ocean Engineering

First Advisor

Brennan Phillips


This study contains three parts under the central theme of deep sea robotics for size, weight, power, and cost (SWAP-C) limited platforms.

1) We developed and deployed a rapid action pressure compensated deep sea hydraulic engine for Flexible Elastomeric Actuators (FEAs) and other soft robotic actuators. The engine draws low electric power and has a compact form factor, making it suitable for use on remote deep sea platforms such as science class Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and other Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs). The design can be scaled and optimized for different use cases. The design principles, performance models, prototypes, and field deployments to depths exceeding ~3000 m in the ocean are presented. In addition, elastic bellows, a core design component of the system, are explored in detail through modeling and future directions for research are proposed. Our design expands operations on SWAP-C limited platforms while improving actuation rate over previously demonstrated deep-sea soft robotic drive engines.

2) A wide range of commercial imaging systems are available to marine scientists that allow for autonomous still and video observations. In recent years, several technology development projects have focused on using open-source designs and code leveraging low-cost microcomputer and micro-controller systems such as Raspberry Pi (RPi) and Python. In this work, we present an open-source software repository for use with the DEEPi deep-sea imaging hardware design from Phillips et al. [1] and other RPi based camera systems. The camera system requires adaptable easy to use software capable of overcoming challenges related to deep sea field deployments. Camera systems using the software have been set up and deployed on an array of field missions by ocean engineers, scientists, and students. Through collaborative open-source methodologies the software can be deployed and built upon by the wider research community.

3) We present a RPi based Multiple Field-of-Views (multi-FOVs) deep sea camera system for use on SWAP-C limited platforms. Multi-FOV systems, which are common on large robotic platforms, can combine image sets to create expanded Field-of-Views (FOVs) or be used comparatively for quantitative optical measurements. The presented system live-streams and records synchronized video from four (4) cameras over a single network connection. The system expands the availability of multi-FOV cam- era systems to SWAP-C limited platforms and provides an imaging test bed for deep sea imaging research.

4) In addition to the work presented, I had the many opportunities to collaborate on outside projects. As part of my efforts in soft robotics, I also co-authored Yin et al. [2]. As part of my efforts with the DEEPi software, I also co-authored Phillips et al. [1], Phillips et al. [3], Motsenbocker et al. [4], and Runyan et al. [5]. From 2020 to 2022, I was appointed as a Guest Student at Woods Hole Oceangraphic Institute resulting in the currently under review journal submission, Shomberg, Jakuba, and Yoerger [6]. The journal submission is an a conference paper (Shomberg, Jakuba, and Yoerger [7] from the OCEANS 2022 Student Poster Competition. During the early months of the COVID19 pandameic, our lab shifted focus to Stereolithography (SLA) printed medical supplies eventually resulting in Krechmer et al. [8]. I was also a fellow of the first year of the COBRA Master Class and a co-author of the resulting publications Rotjan et al. [9].

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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