Remotely operated vehicles

ROV Doc Ricketts launched from Research Vessel Western Flyer

Remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts tethered to Research Vessel Western Flyer

Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are robotic submarines that are tethered to a ship, where “pilots” control their movement and actions. MBARI’s two ROVs—Ventana and Doc Ricketts—are equipped with manipulator arms for grabbing, moving, or placing items in the sea. High-definition video and still cameras on the vehicles record images of sea life, geology, and experiments. The vehicles carry a variety of sampling equipment and sensors for collecting information about the ocean and seafloor.

The tether from the ROV to the ship delivers power to the vehicle and data and video images from the vehicle back to the ship, where they are recorded. The tether must be carefully monitored during ROV missions to prevent kinking, bending, abrasion, or breakage.

The ROVs have several toolsleds—metal frames that are bolted underneath the main body of the ROV—outfitted for various scientific missions. By putting most of the discipline-specific tools on the toolsled, it is easy to switch the tools out from say a biology dive to a geology dive, and minimizes the turnaround time between dives. For instance, scientists studying the gelatinous animals in the midwater, may use a suction sampler, which is a kind of “slurp gun” that sucks animals into a plastic canister to bring them back to shore, while scientists studying the ocean floor might use push cores, foot-long clear plastic tubes that are pushed into the seafloor to pull out samples of the sediment for further study.

At Sea

Research Vessel Western Flyer
R/V Western Flyer cruise planning
Checklist of Supplies
Cruises outside home port
Data and video: formats and specifics
Departure/arrival times
early departure
Hazardous materials
Precruises and postcruises
ROV dive time definitions
RHIB operations
ROV users checklist
Science party guidelines
Scuba diving
Ship to shore communications
Research Vessel Rachel Carson
R/V Rachel Carson cruise planning
Research Vessel Paragon
Emergencies and contacts
Onboard documents and logs
Policies and operating guidelines
Marine operations policies
Departure/arrival times
Early departure
Elevator payload limits
Equipment design guidelines
Hazardous materials
Homer beacon policies
Lab use and chemical safety
NILSPIN ™ oceanographic ropes
Push core policies and description
RHIB operations
Rigging policy
Science party size
Cruise planning
Marine operations policies
Remotely operated vehicles
ROV Ventana
ROV Doc Ricketts
Mini remotely operated vehicle (ROV)
Autonomous underwater vehicles
Gulper autonomous underwater vehicle
Seafloor mapping AUV
Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle Tethys
Investigations of imaging for midwater autonomous platforms
Benthic Rover
Autonomous surface vehicles
Wave Glider
Wave Glider-based communications hotspot
2020 Expeditions
2019 Expeditions
2018 Expeditions
2017 Expeditions
2016 Expeditions
2015 Expeditions
2014 Expeditions
2013 Expeditions
2012 Expeditions
Cabled observatory
About MARS
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Ocean Soundscape
Soundscape Listening Room
MARS hydrophone data
How to connect to MARS
MARS contacts
How to interface
MARS site description
MARS instrument deployment
MARS biology
MARS technology
MARS connector wiring
MARS node description
More ocean observatory resources
Local notice to mariners
Mooring data
Research tools
Administration & planning
Marine operations technicians

Robots filming robots in Monterey Bay

January 28, 2020 – In an intricate underwater robot ballet, two of MBARI's underwater robots recently shot video of each other in the depths of Monterey Bay.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is capable of diving to 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles). The Western Flyer is the support vessel for Doc Ricketts and was designed with a center well whose floor can be opened to allow Doc Ricketts to be launched from within the ship into the water below.

ROV Ventana

The hydraulically powered ROV Ventana is launched by crane from the deck of the R/V Rachel Carson over the side of the ship. It can reach depths of 1,850 meters (more than a mile).