With the hazards and difficulties of extended human diving in this environment, a public tender was prepared to locate the best portable Remotely Operated Vehicle to assist divers and document the condition of reefs before and after reconstructions and to survey wreckage and debris in the water. UNOPS selected the VideoRay Pro III from VideoRay LLC, as the most proven, feature rich and cost-efficient ROV, and on April 15th an urgent purchase ordered was issued for one unit and training. Less than two weeks later the unit was in Bangkok, and within a month the training was completed.
Scott Bentley, the President of VideoRay LLC, and Steve Van Meter, the Hazardous Duty Robotics Specialist on leave from NASA, Kennedy Space Center, traveled to Phuket to train VideoRay operators including Niphon Phongsuwan, the primary Marine (coral reef) Biologist of PMBC, Lynsey Hill, the Technical Coordinator, Reef Recovery and Rehabilitation, Thailand, of UNOPS and David Marsden, a Professional diver for UNOPS. The three day training sessions included basic operations, maintenance including disassembly and reassembly of the unit, and operations from both piers and a large diving support vessel. "It is important for us to have the best scientific tools available to observe underwater specimens and activity" said Mr. Phongsuwan, describing the importance of the VideoRay to PMBC. "The video record and stills we capture with VideoRay let us document the status, growth, and change of living coral reefs."
"We need to get the tonnes of debris from houses, boats, and other man-made material which fell on the reefs removed as quickly and efficiently as we can, using mainly volunteer labor." Said Ms. Hill. "We're very excited about the use of VideoRay - a device that has no limits on depth, dive time, or the other physiological constraints we must live with when we dive. The VideoRay will check out sites before we dive them, and work alongside of divers during cleanups - saving us time and making us far safer and more efficient. And, with the ability to capture video and stills to our laptop computer, we'll have better documentation of our project."
Since the cost of the VideoRay was lower than anticipated for this capability, the UNOPS is considering purchasing additional accessories including a larger monitor, a water quality sensor and scanning sonar to make the underwater robot even more valuable to the project.
More photos available
May 31, 2005