Army Buys 27 ROVs for Underwater Inspections
SeaBotix lands $1.9M Contract for bots designed for detailed examination of undersea pipelines and other construction.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Mar 04, 2009

SeaBotix LBV150SE-5 deep-water remote-operated vehicle

SeaBotix Inc.  has landed a $1.9 million contract by the U.S. Army’s Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) for the purchase of 27 of the company’s LBV150SE-5 deep-water remote-operated vehicles.

The units are designed to be easy to use, remote-controlled underwater explorers, specially designed in models suited for differing depths and levels of difficulty, to examine underwater facilities such as ship’s hulls, pipelines, the footings and supports of oil rigs and other objects that are subject to decay, but difficult to examine.

The LBV (Little Benthic Vehicle) is a five-thruster unit with cameras to let the operator examine a target, and a series of attachments that can increase the level of detail or analysis. With the right module, the units can add sonar, laser-based measurements, estimations of the thickness of a metal component, and cathodic protection. Cathodic protection is a way to fend off corrosion in a one stretch of metal with an attachment made of a metal that will generate a slight electrical field between the two, essentially attracting the corrosion to itself instead of to the piece being protected.

The units also have a wheeled attachment called a Crawler Skid that uses a suction device to attach itself to a pipeline or ship’s hull or other object, so the LBV can roll across the area it is examining instead of floating alongside. That makes the picture far more stable and gathering detailed information far easier for the operator than having to try to keep the unit stable in ocean currents using the LBV’s thrusters, according to the company.

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