Remote Operated Vehicles, popularly known as ROVs, are nothing short of an engineering marvel. Eliminating the need for human presence, ROVs are making underwater inspections easy and safe.
Underwater inspections have a different range of applications. Sometimes it is for the collection of data, sometimes for the topographic survey, and sometimes for the design, maintenance, construction, and repair of the maritime infrastructures.
Yes, a driver could also take the dive and can give you similar data — but an ROV could reduce the labor drastically. Plus, there are also other reasons to consider ROVs over a manual diver like access limitations, contamination, dangerous conditions, depth pressure, or cost.
Read on to find what are ROVs, the types of ROVs, and the benefits of using an ROV.
What is an ROV?
As mentioned, ROVs — or Remotely Operated Vehicles — are tethered underwater mobile devices, otherwise known as underwater robots. Highly maneuverable and operated by a crew either aboard a floating platform or from the proximate land. ROVs find their application in almost all offshore industries like hydrocarbon extraction to military (one use: minehunting).
Types and applications of ROVs:
As in every industry, ROVs come in different shapes, sizes, and price ranges. You could find an ROV as small as a soccer ball as well as big as a regular-size car. The applications of ROVs also differ based on the size. As with different sizes, the use varies. That said, here are the types of ROVs available in the market:
● Inspection ROVs:
Particularly used in offshore energy projects and deep archaeological inspections, Work Class remote operated vehicles are used as an alternative to divers to explore the areas which are tough to navigate manually. Incorporated with cameras capable of giving you live feed, you will find features such as still photography, sonar, and more.
● Micro ROVs:
The smallest class in the ROVs, Micro ROVs are used as an alternative to divers. They generally weigh less than 3kg and are usually used in small areas like sewers and pipelines.
● Mini ROVs:
Used for the same application as Micro ROVs, mini ROVs are bigger in size and weigh 15kg (on average).
● Light Work Class ROVs:
Besides exploration and inspection, Work Class ROVs come with manipulators. These can go as deep as 2000meteres and operate at a propulsion of 50hp.
● Heavy Work Class ROVs:
Heavy Work Class ROVs have two or more manipulators and operate at high speeds. Of course, they could navigate to the deepest part (as much as 6000 meters).
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Benefits of Underwater ROVs:
From safety to accessibility, ROVs are beneficial in many ways:
● Safety amplifies with the underwater ROVs
The best thing about ROVs is they can reach both: the place where divers could contact and the ones where they want to. Most people think that ROVs are used by the people where manual divers are present. But that is not the case — an ROV could very well be used for preinspection purposes to declare it safe or not.
Moreover, ROVs help monitors the divers remotely to ensure their safety when in the waters. For instance, if the diver gets stuck in a bad situation underwater, like his strings get stuck — the presence of an ROV allows you to react faster and neutralize the crisis.
● Underwater accessibility with an ROV
ROVs could explore the uncharted terrains of the underwater world easily for hours. A typical ROV could operate for eight on a single charge and dive much deeper than the manual divers. On the other hand, manual divers would dive not more than 300 meters and get to the surface to deal with decompression sickness. And that’s where an ROV comes into play. Even if the ROVs get damaged — the cost and the damage will be far less than any injuries to a real person.
● Enhanced visibility
The visibility in the murky waters is poor, forcing divers to spend more time exploring and inspecting a small area. Especially at the bottom of the ocean — the visibility becomes zero to none, leaving critical aspects unexplored. A similar is the case with ROVs; although installed with 4K cameras, ROVs too, cannot see well in the murky waters. But they are incorporated with a different set of eyes, i.e., SONAR. SONAR allows you to look up to 60 meters ahead.
ROVs have revolutionized underground inspection and exploration. No wonder the demand for ROVs is growing day by day. If you happen to be involved in oceanic trades or just marine enthusiasts — considering an ROV — goes a long way. You can find ROVs of all ranges, so do not worry about the money. It all depends on the use; if you need an ROV for small tasks like exploration and inspection, the budget will not cross over $10K.