SRV-8 ROV looks good, goes deep
While consumer-oriented underwater drones are becoming increasingly popular, better-equipped ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) are still the weapon of choice for industrial applications. One of the latest – and coolest-looking – is the SRV-8.
Created by California-based ROV manufacturer Oceanbotics, the SRV-8 is designed for applications such as reconnaissance, the inspection of underwater structures (bridge supports, piers, pipelines, etc), and the search and retrieval of objects off the sea floor.
It has a maximum depth rating of 305 meters (1,000 ft), can run for up to six hours on one charge of its two swappable battery modules, and is capable of full 360-degree maneuverability thanks to its eight DVC (dynamic vector control) thrusters. As is the case with some similar products, its station-keeping function allows it to be locked onto a given heading, depth or pitch angle.
Assisted by two 1,500-lumen LED spotlights, the ROV's 1080p/30fps camera transmits low-latency analog video to the shore- or boat-based operator (via an included reeled electrical tether), plus it records digital video.
Some of the SRV-8's other features include a three-jaw robotic grasping arm, frame rails for mounting external devices, plus optional sonar and navigation systems. It tips the scales at a claimed 39 lb (18 kg) but is neutrally buoyant in fresh water, and can lift loads of up to 12 lb (5 kg).
Its topside control unit features an 8.4-inch sunlight-readable video screen and a standard Xbox controller – single thumbstick movements prompt the ROV to ascend, descend, move left, right, forward or backward. According to Oceanbotics, the vehicle can be in the water and operational within three minutes of arrival at the launch site.
Depending on how the SRV-8 is configured, pricing ranges from approximately US$30,000 to $40,000. It can be seen in action, in the video below.