Underwater ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) are submersible, robotic systems, used to observe the depths of large bodies of water by operators from shore, or by divers in the water.
ROVs range in size; they can be as small as a basketball to as big as a large SUV. The prices also vary greatly. They start at a few thousand dollars and can go up to millions of dollars. Underwater ROVs are used in a variety of industries: Search and Rescue, Military, Recreation and Discovery, Aquaculture, Marine Biology, Oil, Gas, Offshore Energy, Shipping, Submerged Infrastructure, and more. They allow operators to capture photo and video footage to inspect and monitor ports, harbours and vessels, bring innovation to pipe inspections, locate underwater targets and explore the depths of our oceans, lakes and rivers.
A work class ROV is used for ocean floor exploration and inspections at depths that divers are often unable to reach. They act as a safe alternative to divers and are often used in offshore energy projects and deep archaeological investigations. The typical depth rating for a Work Class ROV ranges from 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) to 6,000 meters (19,700 feet).
A light work class ROV is ideal for moderate to deep depths; the ROV is deployed from ships in lieu of divers to explore. It can be used during inspections to make repairs. Large extensions, such as laser scanners or specialized inspection devices and sensors, can be added on. The depth rating for Light Work Class ROVs falls within the range of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) to 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).
An Observation Class ROV is small in size, used to explore lakes, rivers and coastal waters. They are often used to test water safety prior to a diver entering the water during missions and conducting inspections. Able to be equipped with sonar and custom sensors, they are versatile vehicles. The depth rating for Observation Class ROVs depending on the model, typically ranges from 300 meters (984 feet) to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).
The micro or mini ROV is the smallest class, often used to inspect hard to reach areas at shallow depths, such as pipe systems and submerged infrastructure. The depth rating for Micro and Mini class ROVs generally ranges from 100 meters (328 feet) to 300 meters (984 feet).
Remotely operated vehicles were first tested in the 1960's by the U.S. Navy to retrieve sunken data. In 1966, the Navy’s Cable-controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle (CURV) successfully recovered an atomic bomb that went missing off the coast of Spain.
In 1973, the crew from Pisces – a notable deep-sea submarine that sunk off the coast of Ireland - was saved by a remotely operated vehicle. Over the course of the following decade, underwater ROV systems became a crucial tool used in various industries.
Work class ROVs were the pioneers and are still being widely used today. Observation ROVs are the newest to the market; however, they have filled the gap, specializing in shallow water observation and inspections.
Due to its compact design and easy to use inspection technology, underwater ROVs can be deployed in a moment’s notice. This is highly beneficial in emergency situations where time is limited, and in areas that are too narrow or difficult to reach by divers. Deep Trekker ROVs can be deployed in as little as 30 seconds.
Underwater ROVs are robust and rugged in design, built to withstand harsh water environments, and require minimal maintenance. Typically, ROVs can last years without the need for major repairs.
Depending on the conditions and type of operation, divers can only remain submerged underwater up to 30 minutes to an hour at a time and most jobs require a dive team consisting of 2-3 divers - commercial diver, standby diver, and supervisor - for a single mission. Depending on its battery life, an ROV can remain underwater for hours on end. The Deep Trekker DTG3 ROV for example, has a battery life of up to 8 hours.
One of the most remarkable benefits of the ROV is its photo and video recording capabilities; they can provide high resolution footage. In dark and murky waters, an ROV can be deployed to record, and later be reviewed for documentation and results. Alternatively, the footage can be edited to serve for documentary programming.
Depending on its size, an ROV is capable of maneuvering and inspecting small and hard to reach areas. This is critical when collecting data that would otherwise be unattainable by divers.
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ROVs provide a safe alternative to explore dangerous areas for divers. Both from shore, or by divers in the water. An ROV can be deployed in underwater locations to gather remains and collect data. In situations where divers are needed, ROVs can inspect critical areas, while the dive team determines the safest possible route.
Mini ROVs are often equipped with a handheld controller which greatly reduces the learning curve. Learning the controls can take as little as a few minutes for familiarization, a few hours for proficient piloting, and a weekend to become an expert.
In comparison to larger submersibles, a micro ROV is much more cost-effective. A micro ROV is great for anyone interested in exploring narrow underwater areas and gathering footage or collecting data; it is also a very affordable option.
Aquaculture is a key source of food, nutrition, income and livelihoods for millions of people around the globe. Using an ROV allows operators to take control of their fish farms. ROVs are used in aquaculture for a more efficient performance of net inspections, lighting, feeding, trouble shooting and stock monitoring. The use of underwater ROVs has proven to be a cost effective way for fish farmers to ensure healthy fish crop, efficient harvest and environmental protection in a variety of weather conditions.
ROVs are a versatile tool for commercial divers to perform inspections in enclosed spaces, including water tanks, pipes and intake structures or in open water applications, such as hull inspections or salvage operations. Using an ROV allows diver teams to examine a site prior to diving or send the ROV into dangerous conditions in lieu of divers to keep humans safe.
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Routine inspections are critical to the long-term care and success of any type of infrastructure. With underwater infrastructure, routine inspections such as dam, reservoir and bridge inspections can be both difficult and dangerous. ROVs are now being used to perform pipeline inspections of infrastructure systems so that divers are not put in harm's way, and crucial infrastructure is well-maintained.
Threats to security are often hidden in underwater locations, either as discarded evidence, contraband travelling on ships, or explosives placed to cause destruction. An ROV gives a safe view of threats and evidence that is hidden beneath the waves, without jeopardizing diver's safety.
ROVs are used to help with environmental research and surveying our oceans for evidence. The cost and risk for divers to perform research dives can prohibit environmental organizations from moving forward. An ROV provides a cost-effective alternative to fully utilize research grants and funding.
Delve into the realm of sea ice research, exploring the diverse techniques for measuring and studying ice thickness, and the instrumental role of ROVs in Arctic exploration.
Oil and Energy
As the population grows, the need for efficient production and delivery of energy is becoming more pressing. All forms of energy require infrastructure underwater: wind, solar, oil and gas, nuclear, and hydroelectricity. An ROV offers an alternative to sending divers underwater to perform needed emergency or routine inspection work. ROV inspections are safe, efficient and lessen the environmental impact from periodic monitoring and inspection.
Periodic inspections of boat hulls during transit and when entering ports are a necessity to monitor: a vessel’s structural integrity, the potential transfer of an invasive species, or contraband smuggling. An ROV provides an affordable, user-friendly way to perform marine surveys, hull and ship inspections and ballast tank inspections without the need for diver intervention.
As we discover more and more about our earth, the desire to understand what we cannot see beneath the waves is greater than ever. Many discovery expeditions now make use of specially designed ROVs; these are equipped with cameras to mitigate risks and help diver teams with imaging and video recording capabilities.
Deep Trekker Underwater ROVs
Underwater exploration, inspection and monitoring is critical across various industries. As more and more industries find new ways to utilize ROVs, the market continues to expand. At Deep Trekker, our vision is to make the underwater world accessible to everyone. To do so, we offer robust, capable and easy to use underwater ROVs that can be deployed within a moment’s notice – to gather information and to serve as an accompaniment during diving missions.
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