Managing Underwater Robots From Above
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) do not carry passengers and are instead operated by someone at the water’s surface. Large, science class ROVs like Deep Discoverer (D2) and Sierios require a team to operate. Before the ROVs are even deployed on a dive, the ROV engineering team makes sure that the ROV is outfitted with the correct sampling equipment for that dive and that the conditions are safe to launch. Once underwater, the ROV pilots “fly” or maneuver the ROV safely through the water column while watching a live camera feed from the ROV control room on board the Okeanos Explorer. The pilots also control the manipulator arm to pick up samples and operate other sampling tools. A video engineer controls the cameras on board the ROV, allowing the pilots and science team to see all of the details of the deep sea. Once the ROVs are back on board, the ROV team helps secure the robots, wash them down, and then assists the science team in offloading the samples collected by the ROV. The ROV engineers perform maintenance on the robots between dives to make sure they are ready for the next one.