February 18, 2011
When I first heard about a mini robotic sub being used in the search for a missing woman, my inner geek was instantly on alert. Miniaturization. Robots. Submersibles. Does it get any better?
Unfortunately, the device being used by the police isn’t quite the Capt. Nemo-style Nautilus I had imagined. For one thing, when they say mini, they really mean it. You can fit one of these babies in the trunk of your car. The submersible itself weighs only 8.4 pounds. It can go to a depth of 500 feet and travel at a speed of 2.6 knots. That’s about five km/h for the nautically challenged.
There is, of course, a remote control device you use to pilot the sub, but you also have the option of using a computer to do this. An external video monitoring contraption is used to record missions.
VideoRay, the company that makes the subs, has a whole list of missions that these remotely-operated vehicles can be used for. For example, did you know that aquaculture operators can deploy them to go underwater and check their nets?
High-tech gadgets are wonderful when they work. This one will be all the more wonderful if it works to find the missing woman’s body, and brings comfort to her family.