In 2017, Salome Buglass, a marine biologist at the Charles Darwin Foundation Research Station in the Galapagos Islands (CDRS is part of the Charles Darwin Foundation) contacted VideoRay about providing ROV support for a pilot study to explore uncharted seamounts in the central region of the volcanic Galapagos Archipelago.
Seamounts are underwater mountains that rise hundreds to over thousands of meters from the seafloor, and are generally understood to be biodiversity hotspots that host important deep-sea reef and fish communities. In the Galapagos, seamounts remain largely unexplored as these habitats are below depths for safe human diving. Thus, VideoRay's ROVs, which can reach depths up to 1000m, are invaluable research tools for seamount research. They not only record high resolution video surveys, but also allow for sample taking with various manipulator arm attachments available.
VideoRay arrived in early November with a large team and two Mission Specialist (MSS) vehicles, the Defender, and a late-stage prototype Pro 5. A total of five days were spent at sea collecting data in the form of video transects using a stereo-video system developed by the Fish Ecology Lab of Curtin University, Australia, led by professor Euan Harvey. The stereo-video system was integrated into the ROVs prior to the mission to ensure success. The modularity of VideoRay's MSS systems allowed for seamless integration and operation of the stereo-video system.
Both ROVs models were used on the study at different times. The Defender's larger and more powerful design allowed it to carry a Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) which made the automatic navigation of straight transects easier. The Pro 5 was more portable and a bit easier to deploy. Both vehicles were easily modified to carry the stereo camera.
The ROV expeditions were very successful, but did overcome a few challenges such as complying with the strict rules and regulations of this world-famous UNESCO heritage site that is the Galapagos National Park's Marine Reserve, and troubleshooting the usual things that go wrong when conducting a pioneer study using new technology to explore uncharted deep-sea habitats in the open ocean.
For Salome and the team, the months of hard preparatory work quickly paid off as they eagerly watched the live-streamed, video footage from the deep: mesophotic soft coral reefs (between 40-60m deep) and deep-sea glass sponge gardens (between 150-180m deep) teeming with interesting fish species. The highlight was the discovery of a macro-algae dominated landscape that is likely a kelp forest on the summits of a seamount. This finding is possibly ground-breaking, as nothing like this has been found before. Salome, together with the other scientists of the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park, are now currently hard at work studying the macro-algae seaweeds and identifying a whole host of species and their communities.
The team's next challenge is to analyse all the video transects of this field campaign to characterize the different seamount habitats found. This information will be essential information for local decision makers and the management sector of the Galapagos Marine reserves at it will provide scientific baseline data about these little understood ecosystems.
An ongoing blog for the mission can be found on National Geographic's OpenExplorer site. The Charles Darwin Foundation also posted their own blog about the research here. Para español, haga clic aquí.
We would like express our gratitude and appreciation for the generous grant awarded by the Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Fund, without which this project would not have possible. As an interesting side note, Lindblad deploy a fleet of VideoRay Pro 4s on their ships (though not currently in the Galapagos.)
Through weeks of side-by-side engagement with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians, Greensea has developed new open-architecture software suited to technicians' needs, OPENSEA-EOD, and this software now comes standard with VideoRay's Mission Specialist Series (MSS) Defender vehicles. This is the first time that an ROV has been built from the ground up to create a robust hardware-software solution specifically for the needs of operators in the field.
OPENSEA-EOD features a modified user interface, EOD-Workspace, that puts the most important sensors and controls at operators' fingertips. Meanwhile, the MSS Defender comes with Greensea's most advanced navigation and control technology, including a fully-integrated Inertial Navigation System and supervised autonomy. "The work that people are doing with ROVs is hard. It's technically complex, happening in unpredictable conditions, and customers often don't have big budgets," says Colin Riggs, Director of Product Development at Greensea. "Greensea's software and VideoRay's vehicles make advanced tasks like orbiting a point of interest in a perfect 360 degree circle, stable operation at a high degree of pitch, or lifting heavy objects while maintaining perfect trim more accurate and affordable than ever."
These advanced capabilities mean that the combination of Greensea's software and VideoRay's hardware can benefit users in fields well beyond Explosive Ordnance Disposal. OPENSEA, Greensea's operating platform, is standard on all MSS vehicles including the new Pro 5, so switching between vehicles won't involve a learning curve. And the inclusion of OPENSEA on VideoRay's vehicles means that customers have access to the same technology used on high-end scientific work-class ROVs by Schmidt Ocean Institute, NOAA, and Vulcan.
Greensea's technology, which is designed to be a common architecture for an industry filled with single-use solutions, is particularly well matched for the modular architecture of the VideoRay's MSS vehicles. Together, they make an ROV that can be easily customized to the task at hand. "I am extremely impressed with how easily and how well Greensea integrated their software with our new MSS architecture," says Andy Goldstein, Vice President of Engineering at VideoRay. "This is a big advance for ease-of-use and simplifying the operation of such a powerful platform--particularly the dialed-in performance of the automated control modes." More is possible when the two powerful technologies are combined. "VideoRay's new modular technology allows for the incredible hardware capabilities we have on the Defender and Pro 5 vehicle systems," says says Marcus Kolb, Vice President, Research and Development, at VideoRay, "but we can't do much without software that takes advantage of all the hardware has to offer. Greensea has worked very hard to develop a highly refined control system that really shows off the hardware capabilities of the Defender and Pro 5."
It's not just the technologies that are compatible. Greensea and VideoRay engineers have been able to develop such powerful products together because the two companies share a commitment to creating innovative and versatile products and a belief that ROV operations can be easier, more efficient, more affordable, and safer. "From the time we started working together with VideoRay everything aligned in our view of technology and our philosophy about how things should work," says Riggs. In the end, this means an excellent customer experience. "We couldn't be more pleased to add Greensea to the arsenal of solutions we can offer to ensure the success of our customers' missions," says Goldstein.
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VideoRay is excited to announce the launch of the much-anticipated Pro 5. This Mission Specialist Series (MSS) configuration builds on the capabilities of the Pro 4 while adding the modularity, control, and power of VideoRay's new MSS technology. The MSS Pro 5 is a 3-thruster system with a forward speed of over 4.4 knots.
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Armed with a VideoRay Pro 4 ROV with a BlueView sonar and standard manipulator, Crossmon Consulting responded to a call about an 11-year-old drowning victim in the St. Lawrence River. The New York and Ontario Police Departments had already been searching for 5 weeks and were coming up unsuccessful. They utilized a side scan sonar to eliminate areas of the river and a K9 to help with locating the victim. Due to the constant heavy current in the river (up to 6 knots some days) and strong winds, the recovery took longer than expected. Finally, after two weeks, the sonar picked up an image of the victim.
With the currents moving heavily west, the recovery was difficult. Crossmon Consulting was live boating at the time of the recovery due to the 6-knot surface current and 3-4 knot bottom current. The victim was located in 218 feet of water by the ROV on October 19 and recovered by a diver on October 20. On the Facebook page dedicated to the search, the family wrote “Thank you to Crossmon Consulting for their assistance and determination.”
Read the full story here.
Dagfin Skaar of Norway spent 3 days at VideoRay’s headquarters completing factory acceptance testing (FAT) on their new custom Mission Specialist Series (MSS) Defender. The system is outfitted with two sonars, a Tritech Gemini imaging and a Micron DST scanning – a first for VideoRay’s engineering team. The custom MSS Defender was accepted by Oyvind Skaar, Chief Executive Officer, of Dagfin Skaar. This latest customization goes to show that the sky’s the limit with the MSS Defender and future MSS configurations.
Howard County completed their third recovery with their VideoRay Pro 4 ROV.
Photo submitted by Andrew Froom of Howard County Fire and Rescue
On July 27, 2018, at 8:00pm,after heavy rains and flooding of the Chaohe River, Dacosmo received a call from the Blue Sky Rescue Team, under the Civil Affairs Department of Beijing City Government, requesting assistance after reporting 3 missing persons. Dacosmo, a certified VideoRay dealer with 9 fully-trained and certified ROV pilots, was called because of their commitment to assist in emergency situations with their VideoRay ROV. Dacosmo recognized that this would be a difficult mission given the low visibility in water, strong current, and muddy ground, but had faith that their system would be successful in this critical situation.
The following day, Dacosmo reported to the Blue Sky Rescue Team and deployed their Pro 4 ROV system equipped with a BlueView Sonar. Within one hour of deployment, the first victim was located via sonar. Divers were dispatched to search within a 3-meter radius of the suspected area and the victim was recovered 40 minutes later. The second and third victims were found in the following hour. It took less than 3 hours to find and recover all 3 victims. This was the first time Blue Sky Rescue Team completed a recovery with the assistance of a ROV, and both the Blue Sky Rescue Team and Fire Services agreed that the VideoRay ROV is extremely remarkable.
After using a VideoRay for a successful recovery in April 2018, the Baltimore Police Department purchased a VideoRay Pro 4 last week to enhance their search and recovery team and improve their efficiency. The system will be used specifically for rescue and recovery efforts in the Inner Harbor, where the previous mission was completed.
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With new walleye fish spawning beds being built in waters too risky for divers, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) had to find a solution to inspect and monitor the area’s walleye population. After replacing their hydroelectric station in 2014, the beds were moved and a lack of walleye sightings caused concerns regarding the success of the new spawning beds. Using a VideoRay Pro 4 to navigate the rocks and current, walleyes were found in the area, proving the beds are successful as the new fish habitat.
Read the full story here.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office, located in Summit County, Colorado, first used their new Pro 4 with BlueView sonar, manipulator arm, and a recovery and retrieval kit in May of 2018. The Summit County Rescue Team also received onsite training to get certified in properly flying and maintaining their new system, and their diligence paid off in only a few weeks. VideoRay previously covered the story about Summit County’s first successful victim recovery in a neighboring county in Colorado.
Summit County began looking into updated technology and methods for recovery after a tragic accident in 2008 that involved a resident from Frisco. After a 3-day search, the victim was recovered, thanks to a side scan sonar. The victim’s family created a memorial fund to help raise money to buy a side scan sonar for Summit County. With the use of the side scan sonar, the Summit County Water Rescue Team and Sheriff’s Office had located eight other missing drowning victims, but they were always concerned that they may not be able to recover the victim as the reservoir was hazardous for divers at an attitude of 10,000 feet and 300 feet deep at its deepest point. After a victim was located, would they be able to fully complete a recovery mission? Without specialized equipment and highly trained divers, the dive team’s operational depth was limited to 80 feet. With that in mind, the Team began researching ROV’s to complement the side scan sonar in 2010 and selected the VideoRay Pro 4 in 2016. In 2017, through a Grant from the Dillon Reservoir Board, Summit Foundation (Breck Gives,) and several private donors, Summit County purchased their VideoRay in2018.
“Diving at altitude is dangerous, we can’t stay down for more than 15 – 20 minutes at a time. By having a tool like this available, we can quickly zero in on a body and spend more time on the recovery and less time searching” - Drew Fontana, Summit County Water Rescue Team President.
In addition to the victim recovery in June, Summit County has used their system to find vehicle keys that fell from a boat ranger’s pocket into 13 feet of water, and a 4 hp outboard engine that fell off the transom of a sailboat into 45 feet of water. They were able to use the ROV’s manipulator to grab the engine while they lifted it up to the surface with the tether. Summit County has also assisted marinas in locating several dock anchors that had been missing for several years.
Sgt. Mark Watson of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office shared his thoughts on the value of a VideoRay ROV, “If you have any substantial water in your area you should really have a tool like the VideoRay Pro 4. A human life is priceless. All Water Rescue/Dive teams need to look at how they can mitigate safety. The integration of a VideoRay Pro 4 into your team’s tools can really help with your planning on most dives. In many cases you may not even need to risk the safety of your diver on a recovery as the VideoRay will be able to recover the victim.”
For the future with their VideoRay Pro 4, Summit County is focusing on safety, closure, and exploration. Summit County wants to make sure their divers are safe as they still need their divers ready to operate at any time for a recovery. The VideoRay can assist divers, but it will not always be able to fully replace them. If the VideoRay can show the underwater conditions, the diver team will be able to plan the dive and mitigate any safety issues. Summit County also wants to bring closure to the families who lose a loved one. Having a trained K9, a side scan sonar, VideoRay, and dive team allows Summit County to utilize every tool they have to best accomplish this goal. And finally, they want to expand beyond recovery and use their VideoRay for exploration. They will be using the VideoRay to assist in checking dam outflow, cables, anchors, and walls. Summit County will also be using the VideoRay to investigate some sunken boats in depths over 100 feet below the surface.
National Geographic has brought a VideoRay Pro 4 onboard for their expedition in Fiji to search for Nautilus eggs. They will be posting about their findings here, and VideoRay will also post significant updates as data is collected. Keep an eye out for news posts around this mission to help protect the Nautilus.
We are excited to be a part of this scientific exploration and wish National Geographic the best of luck with their search!
Here is a photo of a Nautilus for reference:
Photo: National Geographic
Just a few weeks after adding a VideoRay ROV to their search and recovery team, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office successfully recovered David Bass from Steamboat Lake in Colorado. Colorado State Parks called Summit County Sheriff’s Office to ask for assistance in the recovery of Bass, who was on a camping trip. Summit County arrived with their new VideoRay Pro 4 ROV and search dog, Recco, just before midnight to locate and recover the victim.
Recco was able to signal a few alert spots and, in conjunction with the “last seen” location, Summit County determined their search area. They immediately and rapidly deployed the VideoRay to locate the victim in about 10 feet of water within an hour of Summit County’s arrival. The victim was located with the video-like image provided by the Pro 4 system’s BlueView sonar, and secured with the manipulator arm. The body was recovered completely via ROV – the manipulator grabbed hold of the victim’s shirt and Summit County operators used the tether to pull the body to the surface, without requiring human diving.
Sergeant Mark Watson of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office had this to say about the technology, “we have been working for 10 years to improve the recovery process. To have a device that is quick to deploy and doesn’t risk divers has already had a significant impact.”
Read more coverage here:
On Monday, June 11, 2018, the body of Joseph Bennett Fedick was found and recovered after he capsized in his canoe Saturday. The St. Louis County Rescue Squad, equipped with a VideoRay Pro 4 ROV, was called in to assist the Lake County Sheriff’s Office with the recovery. Fedick’s body was located with the rescues team’s Marine Sonic Side Scan and then inspected and recovered with the VideoRay ROV.
The event happened at the Perent Lake, located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). The St. Louis County Rescue Squad was flown in by the US Forest Service as sometimes there are no roads/difficult to access roads to get to such secluded areas. Below, you can see photos of the amphibious plane and VideoRay ROV flying in to assist. The portability and size of the Pro 4 made it the ideal tool for this recovery as it is easy to transport and it is compact enough to fit inside a small plane.
Read more coverage here:
In honor of the memory of drowning victim Adam Brown, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office is the most recent law enforcement dive team to enhance their search and recovery efforts by purchasing a VideoRay Pro 4 ROV. Sergeant Mark Watson of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said, “We are the only law enforcement agency in Colorado to have one of these vehicles…high altitude diving can be dangerous, and safety is our first priority.”
VideoRay is proud to be a part of this milestone for the Colorado team!
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Ercomar, in conjunction with VideoRay, has donated a Pro 4 ROV to a high school in Maullin, Chile, where aquaculture is a major industry. Ercomar owner, Erwin Colillan, worked with VideoRay to provide the high school with technology that will guarantee a safer work environment for the students when they enter the workforce after graduation. The future of the world is in the hands of the youth, and proper education in all possible fields is essential to the survival and improvement of the world, both now and in the future.
ROV operator courses will be added to the students’ aquaculture curriculum, resulting in a certificate in aquaculture and underwater robotic operations upon completion of the course. Including advanced technology courses in young people’s curriculums better prepares them for future employment and success in Chile’s aquaculture industry. VideoRay is proud to have partnered with Ercomar to develop a modern, technologically advanced aquaculture environment for the students of Maullin, Chile.
Read the full article (in Spanish) here!
VideoRay is honored to have received the “Member Company of the Year” award from the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia last Thursday, May 3, 2018. The award is presented to a company that embodies “industry and global leadership, contribution to the regional economy, and partnership with the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia.” As a small business, VideoRay relies on the services the WTCGP provides in order to successfully do business with the rest of the world. VideoRay’s CEO and founder, Scott Bentley, says it best: “If you want to know about underwater robots, talk to us. If you want to know about marketing to Greece, talk to the World Trade Center.”
The ceremony, which is dedicated to recognizing global achievement of the Greater Philadelphia region and celebrating local business leaders who have made a significant contribution to regional and national economic growth through international trade, was held on World Trade Center’s Day, a worldwide celebration of the contributions to peace and prosperity made by World Trade Centers across the globe.
Read more about the nomination here.
Baltimore PD uses VideoRay ROV to recover a missing body after two weeks of searching with divers. The ROV provided a quick, safe, and effective solution—the body was found within minutes with the underwater technology.
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