Modifying remotely operated underwater vehicles for biosecurity surveillance

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Image: A Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle on patrol

Article written by Biosecurity Animal Division

Have you ever wondered what creatures are living beneath the surface of Australia’s marine environments? We have, and we are constantly on the lookout for invasive marine pest species that could harm Australia’s unique environment, and our way of life.

That’s why we are providing $200,000 to the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to modify and trial Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs) for use in marine biosecurity surveillance.

Our challenge in marine biosecurity surveillance is to quickly detect pests so that we can prevent them establishing in Australia, and stop the spread of pests to new environments. Marine pests can hitch a ride on the hulls of vessels or in ballast water, and once they’re on the move, they can go undetected.

Using ROVs will enable us to more effectively inspect vessel hulls, port infrastructure and marine environments for marine pests. This means we can better detect, and manage marine pests before they spread.

Ian Holmes from Undersea ROV said that while ROVs have been around for some time, recent innovations in robotics and sensor technologies have resulted in an explosion of new and exciting applications.

‘The new generation of ROVs are small, manoeuvrable, easy to operate and affordable,’ said Mr Holmes.

Project leader Kevin Ellard explained that modular design will allow ROVs to be tailor made for specific surveillance applications.

‘We plan to install a number of additional features including high resolution video cameras, live streaming, sonar and sample collection devices to improve ROV capability in marine biosecurity surveillance. Training courses will also be developed to teach personnel how to operate and maintain ROVs,’ said Mr Ellard.

Find out more about marine pest surveillance.
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