ROV: An Underwater Robot

ROV’s or Remotely Operated Vehicles can easily be termed as underwater robots and considered a boon for deep water industries like offshore hydrocarbon extraction. As the name itself suggest, Remotely Operated Vehicles are unoccupied and operated by a person from a remote location like a ship. These vehicles are linked to the ship by a tether that is a group of cables used for transmitting electrical current, videos, and data signals from the vehicle to the operator and back. Hydraulics may be used in addition to electric current.

ROV Accessories

The minimum equipment that an ROV is equipped with is a video camera and lights. Equipment like sonars, magnetometers, still cameras, water samplers, cutters, and other instruments may be added for the performance of additional functions and widening the scope of use of vehicle.

ROV Underwater Robot

ROV Underwater Robot

CURV (Cable Controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle)

The ROV’s were originally known as CURV (Cable Controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle) and were developed by the US Navy in the 1960’s. Since then these vehicles have been instrumental in oil and gas industry for the purposes of exploration and extraction. During early 1980, the ROV’s acquired importance as most of the fields had become difficult to reach.  With the increasing pressure to discover new oil fields the ROV industry experienced a thrust to develop and add new features to their vehicles.

Multiple Roles of CURV or ROVs

In today’s times the Remotely Operated Vehicles are put to multiple functions like:

  • Explorations and extractions in deep seawaters: The ROV’s are widely used by companies involved in deep sea extractions, explorations and clearing of mines
  • For carrying out deep sea rescue operations: These are widely used for deep sea rescue operations.    One of the best example has been in the recovery of the Nuclear Bomb from the Mediterranean Sea after a plane crash in the year 1966
  • For locating shipwrecks like Titanic, Bismarck and SS Central America
  • For educational purposes in ocean related courses
  • For construction, inspection and maintenance of sub-sea structures, pipelines, platforms, for connecting pipelines and for carrying out repairs functions

Types of ROV’s

ROV’s are of different types and are classified on the basis of size, weight and features. Some of the common types are:

  • Submersible ROV’s:  The submersible ROV’s use two techniques – free swimming or garaged. Both the techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages.
  • Heavy Workclass:  These ROV’s have a power of around 220 HP and have a maximum working depth of 3500 meters. Trenching/Burial: The horsepower of these types of ROV’s is between 200 to 500HP and can work up to 6000 meters depth.
  • Light Workclass ROV’s: These ROV’s have power less than 50 HP. These ROVs are housed with additional facilities than the General ROV’s. The bodies of the Light Workclass ROV’s are often made of polymers rather than stainless steel and the maximum depth up to which they can work is 2000 meters.
  • General ROV’s: These ROV’s have power less than 5 HP and are used for light survey applications. These can be installed with a sonar unit. There best performance is achieved at depths less than 1,000 meters.
  • Mini ROV’s: Mini ROV’s are around 15 kilograms in weight and can also be used in place of human divers. A Mini ROV can be transported and set up by a single person very conveniently.
  • Micro ROV’s: Micro ROV’s are very small in size and can weigh as less as 3 kilograms. These can be clearly used in place of a human diver.

Continous research and development is continuously being conducted by companies and various governmental organizations and new features being added everyday. These vehicles not only allow access to deep sea areas but prevent precious human life from being put to risk. These vehicles are widely used for carrying out military and salvage functions.

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