ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle)
An ROV is a surface controlled, self-propelled underwater craft with a video camera inside an underwater housing. It can cost any where from $6,000 to $50,000 or even more. An ROV comes in very handy when you have deep water or other hazards like contaminated water, especially if it's equipped with a maneuvering arm that can grab or mark the object of your search. I use one a lot to recon an area before I send in divers. For example, if you have a submerged vehicle and you are about to do a recovery, I will send down an ROV to look the vehicle over. I look to see what type of vehicle it is, if I can see if its carrying any cargo, if the cargo/containers are leaking, what position the vehicle is in, if the victim(s) are still inside the vehicle, etc.
All this information can be used to better prepare your divers. I can even show my divers before hand what they are going to find which makes it an all around safer dive. I personally do not use an ROV to search an area. I prefer to use divers or if it's a large area and I'm searching for something large (body, car, etc.), I will use a side scan sonar to find the item, then either send down divers or send down an ROV to see what I have.
The one ROV that UCI supports and believes in are the ROV's made by VideoRay. They make a great product and stand behind it. Some other advantages of VideoRay are:
Affordability. The VideoRay Scout starts at $5,995 (in the US) a cost quickly justified when compared to commercial dive missions or funding the purchase, mobilization, staffing, and operation of larger ROVs.
Portability. One person can transport the tiny 8-pound sub, control box and tether. The Scout system weighs less than 70 pounds and packs neatly in one rolling Pelican case. All other systems fit in two Pelican cases that can be transported in a car trunk or helicopter, or checked as airline baggage.
Usability. Driving the VideoRay is similar to operating a video game. A specially trained ROV pilot is not needed. (In fact, kids raised on video games routinely put adults to shame piloting VideoRay.). VideoRay is equally at home with a search and rescue team as it is with a yacht owner enjoying live views of a coral reef in St. Thomas. Additional controls on advanced models include front camera focus and tilt, rear camera selection and automatic depth holding (see the product detail pages for complete lists of features and capabilities of each model).
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