Friday, September 17, 2021
Published: Nov 2015
  • ROVs

VideoRay Debuts New Underwater Products

Over the last few months, VideoRay LLC has rolled out two new additions to their product line – the VideoRay Voyager, an economy ROV system, and a brand new line of customized ROV systems called the Mission Specialist Series.

Mission Specialist Series ROV Systems

Beginning in 2016, VideoRay will offer the Mission Specialist ROV Series, a highly customizable and flexible platform that relies on a system of interchangeable, modular components residing on a single, intelligent network. The Mission Specialist ROV Series will consist of ROV systems customized to each customer’s specific job task needs. The philosophy behind the Mission Specialist ROV Series is building each system around the capabilities needed for the job at hand, rather than retrofit accessories to a standard ROV.

VideoRay Mission Specialist ROVs will be configured from a range of modular components. Available Mission Specialist components include cameras with a wide range of resolutions, LED lighting modules, powerful thrusters capable of up to one horsepower operation, power systems ranging from 75 Volts to 1600 Volts as well as an on-board battery option, and a purpose-built frame customized around the payload requirements of the operator’s chosen sensor package. As with existing VideoRay Pro 4 systems, the Mission Specialist ROV Series will offer a wide range of the best underwater sensors and tools available on the market, including sonars, positioning systems, cavitation cleaners, manipulators, Doppler Velocity Logs (DVLs), autonomous control, and water parameter sensors.

The topside control panel and user interface will continue to adhere to the user-friendly principles that informed the VideoRay Pro 4 design, while improving upon the technology and adding an optional IP65 ingress rating. Mission Specialist ROV Systems can be controlled over the Internet or through whichever USB controller option preferred by the ROV pilot.

The initial depth rating for the Mission Specialist ROV Series will be 4000 m (13,123 ft), a huge leap from the Pro 4’s 300 m (1,000 ft) limitation. Eventually, VideoRay plans to offer systems operable to full ocean depth — over 11,000 m (36,200 ft). All VideoRay Missions Specialist ROVs will use high quality, durable VideoRay plug and play tether, and can accommodate tether configurations up to 2000 m (6,561 ft).

The first VideoRay Mission Specialist ROV system was officially deployed for the first time in September during the VIPS 2015 conference. The Cavitation Cleaner hit the water in Dutch Springs during a demonstration for VIPS attendees, where the VideoRay engineering staff was on hand to explain how the new modular system works and demonstrate the new interface. The Cavitation Cleaner ROV attaches a CaviBlaster probe to the front of the ROV to clean underwater surfaces such as ship hulls, sea chests and cooling water intakes, and other surfaces that collect marine debris.

The Cavitation Cleaner is the first of many different customized ROV system configurations in VideoRay’s Mission Specialist Series. Other task-specific ROVs will be configured and introduced as VideoRay determines customers’ needs and desires. Currently, plans are underway for systems for 3D surveys, tunnel penetration, mine countermeasures (MCM), as well as a fly-out system for a long-term or permanent deployment.

Voyager ROV System

The Voyager, part of VideoRay’s economy series, is designed to bridge the power gap between the economy and professional ROV lines, while retaining the simplicity, portability, and affordability of the economy series ROVs.

The Voyager is at the top of VideoRay’s economy line, with enhanced horizontal and vertical thrusters that increase the submersible’s maximum speed to 2.9 knots. The Voyager provides a live video feed from a submerged robotic camera to a topside control panel. The Voyager is depth rated to 250 ft (76 m) and designed for basic underwater visual operations in a low current environment.

The lightweight Voyager ROV system is completely portable, relying on a standard power source rather than heavy batteries that need to be recharged after only a few hours. Weighing in at only 75 lb (34 kg), the complete Voyager system can be transported by hand, on small inflatable boats, or even as checked luggage on any commercial airline. The Voyager maintains the user-friendly nature of all VideoRay ROV systems. Maneuvering techniques can be mastered after just a few hours of training, and operations can continue for as long as the operator is willing.

The Voyager ROV system includes the submersible, the control panel, and 130 ft (40 m) of professional performance tether. The Voyager also features a high resolution, 160° vertical tilt color camera, water depth readout, auto depth feature, compass heading readout, and run time meter. The control panel has a  color LCD display and control knobs for the horizontal and vertical thrust, as well as the variable intensity halogen lights.

Lost At Sea: Recovering Lost Scientific

Packages with VideoRay ROVs

When conducting underwater experiments and research, the safety and accessibility of the equipment and devices is absolutely imperative to the success of the operation. In the unfortunate case that a device goes missing, the operation must be halted until the device can be located and recovered either to its previous location or to the surface for inspection. Searching for lost equipment can cost research organizations precious time and resources, as well as valuable and irreplaceable data. Even if the location is known, deploying divers to recover it can be expensive and extremely dangerous. If the device cannot be recovered, the entire expedition usually must start from the beginning.

Inspection class or mini Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), such as the VideoRay Pro 4, are an alternative method to locating and retrieving lost scientific packages. ROVs can conduct safer and more efficient searches at a fraction of the cost of a diver deployment. Unencumbered by the limits of physical exhaustion or oxygen tanks, an ROV can search longer and deeper than a diver could. The addition of sonars and positioning systems allows the ROV to “see” in low visibility conditions and keeps track of its location, and ultimately the device.

After a package is located, the ROV can be used to recover the equipment to the surface. Equipped with a manipulator arm, the VideoRay Pro 4 ROV can lift objects up to 10 times its weight underwater using the tether and the manipulator, once a good grip is established. Heavier objects, even up to several hundred pounds, can be lifted using specialized techniques to attach recovery lines. If the package is still too heavy or delicate, divers can follow the Pro 4’s tether to the specific target location, minimizing their dive time.

Since 2009, Submerged Recovery & Inspection Services, led by Craig Thorngren, has recovered 12 scientific lander packages for Oregon State University (OSU), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as verified the condition of scientific devices for the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) using VideoRay Pro 4 ROVs. The total value of the gear recovered is more than $1 million U.S. dollars, while the data itself is almost priceless.

Thorngren and Submerged Recovery & Inspection Services were first contacted about recovering a lost scientific package in September 2010. A  acoustic hydrophone array owned by Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center had malfunctioned, and needed to be recovered from 175 feet underwater and six miles offshore. The array contained critical data for the Northwest Marine Renewable Energy Center for an environmental impact study of wave energy conversion devices, research sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, and Oregon State University. Even though the crew knew the location, sending down divers would be cost-prohibitive and far too dangerous. Fortunately, Joe Haxel from Oregon State was familiar with an alternative method: VideoRay ROVs.

When Submerged Recovery & Inspection Services arrived on the scene, there were only three hours — including travel time — for the crew to locate and assess the condition of the equipment, develop a plan for recovery, and execute the plan successfully. They planned an initial dive to locate and assess the array and its recovery lines to help them develop the best plan for retrieval. A VideoRay Pro 4 ROV equipped with BlueView P900-130 imaging sonar and LYYN real-time video enhancement quickly located and imaged the equipment, and recognized that the buoys that were meant to bring the array to the surface were entangled in the recovery line, damaging the buoy.

The ultimate plan was to attach a carabineer to a recovery line, fly a second VideoRay Pro 4 ROV down to the array, attach the carabineer to the retrieval line at around 90 feet, and then pull the array to the surface. Most of the scientists were unsure that a mini ROV like the VideoRay would be able to accomplish the complex task of attaching a carabineer with line attached to it; however it was a technique Thorngren was familiar with from conducting several similar recoveries. The method was successful, and the array — and its data — were quickly recovered.

The minimal size and power requirements of a VideoRay ROV make it an ideal solution for deployments on the water. The entire system can be transported and deployed by one person from a small vessel. The Pro 4 ROV can be mobilized in a matter of minutes from a standard power source and can be operated by one person for as long as the operator is willing. The cost of an ROV recovery is significantly lower than the replacement cost of lost equipment and most importantly, the lost data.

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