Novel uses for Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV's) may put them in risky situations, but also add their capabilities to new types of important missions. A team of scientists from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have a special model in prototype that may eventually be used to assess the damage of oil spills in large bodies of water from underneath, filling a crucial gap in typical pollution assessments.
Gizmag reported on the project, Acoustic Slick ROV, and how it would work compared to standard assessment procedures. The current test model uses sonic transducers and a thermometer to assess the thickness of oil slicks as it patrols along the floor underneath. Right now, the device's field of exploration seems to be limited to testing pools as the system is fine-tuned. However, the operation suggests future usefulness in attending to oil spills.
This project has received funding from the federal government and could help pinpoint the thickest parts of an oil slick, a task usually performed by crew working above the spill site. Paul Panetta, a professor and the leader of the project, told TheEngineer.co.uk about the way this ROV project could eventually be used and what it may mean for oil monitoring efforts.
"Our ROV will provide a test platform for developing other sensors and for field applications," he said. "It's one step along the path to developing platforms for use in the ocean to measure slick thickness and other oil properties using acoustics." He also added that the sensor technology applied to this prototype could also extend to other forms of ROVs in different underwater settings that move about more freely.
ROV insurance helps recompense operators that suffer unexpected damages when deploying equipment. Since this equipment is often expensive, such protection is vital for financial stability.