VideoRay today announced that its 8-pound ROV (remotely operated vehicle) can withstand new a new form of pressure testing – a crush from the jaws of a Florida alligator. The VideoRay ROV—a small, remote-control, video-equipped submersible used for underwater inspections—went tether-to-teeth with the alligator when a NASA/Kennedy Space Center employee was scouting out shallow waters near the launch pad for the Space Shuttle.
Hazardous Duty Robotics Specialist Steve Van Meter was using VideoRay to investigate locations for a video camera to monitor fish movements in the waters of the NASA/Kennedy Space Center. Used for many kinds of underwater exploration, VideoRay moves stealthily through the water like many sea creatures at up to 2 knots and displays real-time color video of its surroundings.
“The ROV bumped into the alligator’s tail. Before we could move it out of the way, he [the alligator] grabbed the tether and began working his way forward to the ROV,” said Van Meter. “I tried to get the gator’s attention, but he was only interested in the ROV.”
According to Van Meter, the alligator traveled for about 50 feet with the tether in his jaws. ” I was glad the tether was coiled loosely on the ground near the water. When he took off, it was at a high speed. If the tether had not played out smoothly, I’m sure the alligator would have cut it completely and we may have lost the ROV.”
After a few minutes, the gator released his grip and the VideoRay sub floated up. Van Meter quickly pulled the VideoRay back to land. The only damage was a small cut in the tether cover and a broken bulb in the right side light.
“Bottom line: we were lucky more damage was not done, and really lucky to have been using the machine instead of a person in the water,” said Van Meter. “The gator was about 10 feet long and very heavy. He would have been a tough guy to fight off.”
See the VideoRay ROV at the Underwater Intervention 2001 show from January 15-17, 2001 at the Convention Center in Tampa. Roper Resources of Ojai, California provided the VideoRay ROV to NASA/Kennedy Space Center.
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