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VideoRay Pro 4 ROVs Facilitate US Port, Underwater Security

By Kate McGarry

Screen grab of the VideoRay CoPilot RI interface. The red line indicates the ROV's flight path.

VideoRay LLC (Pottstown, Pennsylvania) Pro 4 ROVs have found several new places on the front lines of the United States armed forces. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard are currently implementing new Pro 4 technology for mission tasks, including explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), searching for and identifying improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mine countermeasures (MCM), and other underwater search and inspections for port security.

Compared to torpedoes, small-boat attacks and missiles, underwater mines have caused more than four times damage to U.S. Navy ships. Crude but effective mines, waterborne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs) and underwater hazardous devices (UHDs) are cheap, easy to stockpile and easily concealed in the holds of ships and fishing boats. Worldwide port and maritime operations, associated facilities and infrastructure collectively represent one of the single greatest unaddressed challenges to the security of nations and the global economy today. VideoRay ROVs offer an advanced yet cost-effective solution to global port-security challenges.

Improving Safety
VideoRay ROV systems have been employed by U.S. and overseas security forces, as well as at various ports since 2003 for both routine and emergency inspections of ship hulls, sea wall pilings and bridges for explosive devices. The systems have been used to help direct divers to an area of interest, to search for and recover evidence, which has been discarded in a body of water, and to inspect an object or area of interest before deploying divers. The U.S. Navy tested and purchased many ground robot types used in countering the IED threat and unexploded ordnance in recent wars. These robots added an element of safety to a hazardous mission. The U.S. Navy was recently outfitted with VideoRay CoPilot RI (Reacquire-Identify) by SeeByte (San Diego, California) to provide similar capabilities in the more-challenging underwater environment.

Previously, divers had to use line-rigging methods to navigate and search the seafloor for evidence and unexploded ordnance items. Poor or no visibility, water contamination and treacherous environments were only some of the known hazards facing divers. The logistics support required and limited bottom time for divers exacerbated the challenges. Each mission faced uncertainty about what the divers would encounter once they were below the surface. Previous methods were time-consuming and labor-intensive, often with scarce verification of mission success or completion.

While land response personnel benefit from the use of ground robotics, underwater response equipment operators had no alternative. Ground robot development gave the operator a means to find a hazard from a safe distance and take steps to mitigate or dispose of the item, all in real time. Similarly, to help protect their divers from unnecessary threats, the Navy sought out a 'suitable underwater robotic platform' that could perform the hazardous initial search and reconnaissance phase and help Navy technicians locate evidence, collect, save and share data from underwater forensic evidence collection. To continue this article please click here.

Kate McGarry is the marketing coordinator at VideoRay LLC, where she assists with all marketing communications, including white papers, promotional materials and Web content. She has worked with VideoRay since 2012. A recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she holds a bachelor's degree in communications.

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