Project Prometheus


Wes Skiles / National Geographic

Wes Skiles / National Geographic 

Most of the underwater world remains far off the map. For many of the most exciting exploration challenges—from Maya cenotes to urban aquifers to archaeological treasures to coral reefs—map-making remains largely pre-industrial and time consuming. The difficulty and expense of mapping these spaces is a major barrier to storytelling for science, conservation, and stewardship. While many tools exist for open-ocean bathymetry (such as multibeam sonars), cost-effective diver-deployable tools for rapidly mapping complex and enclosed spaces are sorely lacking. Our goal is to create diver-deployable tools that are orders of magnitude faster, more precise, and less expensive than current practice–to enable mapping and imaging of these underwater resources at a societal scale.

To this end we are developing low-cost, high-precision, diver-deployable underwater LIDAR and Depth-Imaging systems—3D scanning and navigation systems with which to quickly, safely, and beautifully map caves, aquifers, coral reefs, sunken cities, and other large-scale underwater spaces. To satisfy scientific and storytelling needs, these devices must be easy to use, have fine spatial resolution, map at swimming speed, produce data in industry-standard formats, and be completely open source at both hardware and software levels.

Team Members

  • Corey Jaskolski (Virtual Wonders)
  • Allan Adams (MIT Future Oceans Lab)
  • Kenneth Broad (University of Miami)
  • Jacob Bernstein (MIT Future Oceans Lab)
  • Nicole Raineault (Ocean Exploration Trust)
  • Beverly Goodman (University of Haifa)
  • Dominique Rissolo (UCSD)
  • Katy Croff Bell (MIT Media Lab, Open Ocean)