An inexpensive remotely operated vehicle for underwater studies

Mark A. Teece

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 7:206-215 (2009) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2009.7.206

ABSTRACT: Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are an increasingly important tool in understanding underwater environments; however, their widespread use has been dampened by high operating costs and accessibility. To address the lack of affordable ROV technology, I have designed, constructed, and tested a ROV that can record real-time video images for less than $400. With some additional modifications and cost, the ROV can deliver a multiparameter probe to user-defined locations and collect water samples. The ROV provides high-quality video images of underwater environments and can be used for video transects of benthic environments. I show that, using an attached multiparameter probe, continuous water quality and chemical parameters can also be recorded. The ROV is made from readily available materials and can easily be built by anyone, and its maintenance costs are low. The ROV is easily maneuvered in depths up to 30 m and is easily deployable by one person. The ROV is small, lightweight, and, as it requires 12V DC power, can easily be transported to remote locations. The low cost and broad capabilities of the ROV will provide aquatic scientists, teachers, and students with a window to visually observe a wide range of underwater environments. The construction and potential applications of this ROV are discussed.