WHAT IS IT
A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is essentially an underwater robot that allows the vehicle's operator to remain in a comfortable environment while the ROV works in the hazardous environment below.
An ROV system is comprised of the vehicle, which is connected to ship by an umbilical cable, a handling system to control the cable dynamics, a launch system and associated power supplies.
The umbilical carries the power and the command and control signals to the vehicle and the status and sensory data back to the operators topside.
ROVs can vary in size from small vehicles with TVs for simple observation up to complex work systems, which can have several dexterous manipulators, TV's, video cameras, tools and other equipment.
HOW IS IT USED
The ROV is lowered into the water un-powered, but once in the lake, it is powered on and the operator uses controls, similar to those of a remote control car, to maneuver the ROV in the depths of Lake Michigan.
Video from the ROV is transmitted back to the ship and if needed a suction tube can be employed to collect samples such as rocks, fish and mussels.
Once back on board the ship, the samples are transferred to a container for further study back in the lab.
WHY IS IT USED
The ROV allows researchers to collect samples and view areas that would be difficult or dangerous to reach with traditional sampling tools such as PONAR's and divers.
The disadvantages of using an ROV include the fact that the human presence is lost, making visual surveys and evaluations more difficult, and the lack of freedom from the surface due to the ROVís cabled connection to the ship.
Overall though the ROV is an invaluable tool for aquatic researchers.