Not long ago ROVs were expensive pieces of equipment primarily used by the oil industry, top research institutions, and a select group within the military. Today the cost of ROVs has come down to a point where they are in widespread use by a diverse group of people. These remote operated vehicles are being employed in a broad spectrum of applications. Commercial diving companies use them for inspection and repair of underwater structures, thereby minimizing dive time and improving safety. Law enforcement agencies use them to look for a weapon thrown in a waterway, hunt for a sunken vessel, or search for a submerged vehicle. Coast Guard and military units use them to inspect the hulls of ships for drugs and contraband, to search for mines, and to secure areas by checking underwater structures for explosive devices. Universities use them to study benthic habitats and marine species. Government fisheries services use them to monitor fish and shellfish populations. Dive rescue groups use them to search for a lost swimmer, find a missing boater, or to locate a snowmobiler that has gone through the ice. Aquaculture farms use them to check the health of fish stocks and the condition of the cages. Even recreational fishermen and divers are using ROVs, just to see what’s on the bottom.
JW Fishers has added a new feature, side cameras, to their ROVs to enhance the system’s versatility. The vehicles can now be equipped with two additional cameras mounted on the sides of the housing, for an impressive total of four cameras on the ROV. Each side camera has its own separate underwater housing with a high intensity LED ring light. The viewing direction of the cameras is set by the operator. When aimed horizontally, the ROV becomes the ideal tool to inspect a seawall, dam face, bridge support, or any other vertical underwater structure. The cameras can be turned to face straight up, or straight down, for inspecting the inside water tanks or pipelines. Upward looking cameras are also very useful for inspecting ship’s hulls and similar operations required in homeland security operations. The side cameras are high resolution color, just like the ROV’s primary cameras, with excellent low light sensitivity.