Driving Underwater

April 2, 2011

It was the greatest video game ever: there was a control pad, and a maneuverable object. Our control pad was a computer remotely hooked up to the Marine Resources Development Foundation in Key Largo. And our maneuverable object was a real, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in waters off the Florida Keys! Working with a scientist sitting in a habitat almost 50 feet under the surface of Largo Sound, each of us took a turn maneuvering the ROV from our lab at the Museum.

ROVs can provide tons of climate information for us, by exploring where humans can’t – underwater caves, the frozen polar regions, oil rigs and shipwrecks. They can use claws to take samples, and probes to take temperature readings, and can observe habitats without disturbing the inhabitants very much. And we were able to operate one! It may be hard to tell from the picture, but it was like a real-life game. You can see our controls on the left, and the view from the ROV’s “eye” as it follows an underwater pipe. Some took to it more quickly than others – it definitely is a skill, and not as easy as it looks!

Navigating an underwater ROV from our lab in the Museum

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