Introduction – What are ROVs?
Rovs or Remotely operated vehicles are nothing but underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle robots that can be controlled from a ship. ROVs are used for a numerous applications which we will discuss later in the article. These tethered underwater robots are attached to the ship with the help of cables that can carry electrical power in addition to video and data signals. All the Rovs are provided with light and high resolution camera. Apart from that they are provided with many other facilities in accordance with the purpose. Rovs have high maneuverability and are always unoccupied.
All the Rovs have a high band width which enables them to have high resolution video and data transmission. They are also provided with accurate navigational system and tracking devices that make them appropriate for underwater research.
A Brief History
Initially, ROVs were used only for military purposes.The First Rov was designed in 1960s by US Navy and was named "Cable Controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle( CURV). As the lure for Oil kept on increasing, ROVs were put to use to explore deep seas for Oil reserves. The oil and gas research industry gave a great impetus to the usage of ROVs. But during the mid 1980s , due to global recession and downfall in oil prices, ROVs research and development came to a halt. Soon after the great recession of 1980s, ROVs development achieved a great momentum which helped it to find new markets.
ROVs has a wide range of applications. They are listed below.
- Underwater deep sea exploration
- Port and harbor security and surveillance
- Underwater ship inspection and maintenance
- Underwater pipe line inspection and repair
- Oil Rigs Surveillance and inspection
- Studying rare species of marine organisms
- Unearthing sites of deep sea minerals and metals
- Oceanographic research
- Exploring Ship Wrecks, Trenching, Search and Rescue in case of accidents, Cable burials.
These are some of the main applications.
ROVs are connected to a control system located on the shore or a ship with the help of umbilical cables. All the power and data signals are sent through these umbilical cables. Apart from that, all the ROVs are provided with thrusters which enable them to navigate and relocate in a smooth and efficient way. High Resolution Cameras and underwater microphones and powerful lights are provided so that the crew at the surface can see and hear what is going on. Various sensors are provided to measure parameters such as water temperature, ocean depth, distance from obstacles etc.
Many modern ROVs are provided with robotic arms that can lift or collect a specimen or a sample from the ocean bed. The arms are controlled from the ship with the help of a hydraulic system and using cameras. They are also equipped with manipulators, sonars, magnetometers, water clarity measuring device, sample collecting device etc.
ROVs consists of a flotation structure which is mounted on top of a steel frame. This give an extra buoyancy to the structure. Syntactic foam is used in the making of the body so as to provide the necessary flotation. The bottom portion consists of a metal grid which accommodates all the sensors. The structure is so designed that the heavy elements are placed at the bottom and the lighter ones at the top. This enables to create a void between the center of buoyancy and center of gravity, which in turn provides higher stability underwater.