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Aging Infrastructure Inspections - Surveying the Dinosaur

Sam Macdonald   |   July 18, 2017

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) known as underwater drones, widely used to inspect aging infrastructure - one engineering firm shares their experience.

Aging infrastructure is a reality for the majority of cities around the world. Many municipal waterways, dams, and bridges were built over 50 to 100 years ago, and these systems are showing their age. It is imperative that repairs, maintenance, and ongoing development are completed to fight against water main breaks, contaminations, and degradation; the cost of which is massive, and the long-term effects devastating.

The Challenge to Inspect


Inspection of our infrastructure isn’t always easy. Constructions such as bridges, dams and water systems house millions of tons of concrete within their foundations, frequently hidden deep underwater. Concrete is not infallible, and continued maintenance and observation are crucial to ensuring the safety and efficiency of a community’s transportation and water systems. In the past, diver’s have been utilized to conduct integrity testing and repair damage on these submerged structures. This not only is dangerous, but it is also quite costly. Inspecting concrete structures requires a high degree of specialization in concrete, engineering and aging infrastructure. The dive is often also physically demanding on a diver, precarious currents, turbid waters, confined spaces and contamination issues make this kind of inspection timely, dangerous and expensive.

A Different Way to Approaching Aging Infrastructure Inspections

CTL Engineering is a firm that is utilizing an innovative technology in tandem with their dive teams to evaluate existing structure integrity and conduct degradation testing and maintenance. The integration of Deep Trekker’s DTG3, a robust and versatile - remotely operated vehicle (ROV), into their offered services has allowed CTL to develop a scheduled maintenance program that is more cost effective and efficient to its clients. A deployed Deep Trekker ROV will look for structural risks such as cracks, leaks, or signs of deterioration on the piers of a bridge. Additionally, inspections are now being done without risk to a diver, where precarious currents and murky water can be safety risks. Inspections of concrete tanks, which are integral to maintaining effective water systems, are now being done without risk of contaminating drinking water or having to drain the tank. CTL experts are surveying concrete infrastructure to ascertain through observation the course of action required - whether it is simply the recorded data of an inspection utilized to schedule future maintenance, or the need to launch a dive team to work on development and repair of tanks, dams and bridge piers.

Deep Trekker’s fleet of robust and versatile ROV’s make them perfect for underwater infrastructure inspection. Live footage to the surface allows engineers and experts to survey aging structures. The 360 degree patented pitching system combined with an HD Camera and an add-on sonar system, provide clear and precise data and imagery. The ability to record footage means that documentation can be stored to assist in the prediction and scheduling of future maintenance.

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A perfect Partner to Expert Dive Teams

The easily maneuvered DTG3 and DTX2 ROVs can explore areas unsafe for divers, and with the added sonar systems, the system is expanded to investigate structural integrity in places with zero visibility. When dive teams enter the water for hands-on repair or maintenance, the DTG3 or DTX2 ROV can work in tandem with a dive team, with surface operators able to observe the safety of the divers. As an addition, partnering with the Deep Trekker ROVs, for long-term assessment and observation is Deep Trekker’s newly released DTPod. Designed for to be utilized for long term installations or as a sturdy drop camera, imaging can be sent to the surface providing experts with a steady and precise view - highlighting key areas of interest, logging degradation data or monitoring sites of structure concern.


As infrastructure continues to age, the risk of breaks, cracks, and leaks in our integral structures grows. It is through innovative companies such as CTL Engineering that are on the front lines monitoring, repairing, and upgrading these submerged systems, that our communities will continue to sustain our growth.

Interested in supplementing your dive team inspections? Request a custom quotation today.

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