Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), are underwater robots that are tethered to a ship and piloted by a crew onboard the vessel. The tether delivers power to the vehicle and data and video images from the vehicle back to the ship, typically using fiber optics to transfer HDTV signals and high-bandwidth data from instruments such as multibeam sonars. ROVs operate in environments that are considered too deep and sometimes dangerous for divers. They are commonly used in deep-water industries, such as the offshore energy industry (oil and gas exploration), but can also be used for underwater construction, military, exploratory, science, and/or salvage missions. Some ROVs have been used to discover historic shipwrecks, including the RMS Titanic, and have been used to recover material from the sea floor and bring it to the surface. In recent years, ROV’s have become involved with offshore wind and tidal power projects.
Most ROV’s are equipped with at least a video camera and lights. Additional equipment is commonly added to expand the vehicle’s capabilities. These may include sonars, magnetometers, digital still cameras, a manipulator arm, scientific samplers, and instruments that measure water clarity, water temperature, water density, sound velocity, light penetration, and temperature. ROV pilots/technicians are responsible for the operation and maintenance of this equipment, in addition to “driving” the ROV. ROV pilots/technicians possess varied mechanical, electrical, and/or computer science backgrounds and often supplement their past experience with training that is specific to the ROV systems they operate. Their work can take place aboard a commercial vessel or platform, a research vessel, a marine laboratory or onshore support facility, or in any number of other marine and coastal settings.