A remotely operated underwater vehicle, commonly referred to as an ROV, is a tethered underwater vehicle. They are common in deep-water industries such as offshore hydrocarbon extraction. While the traditional abbreviation “ROV” stands for remotely operated vehicle, one must distinguish it from remote control vehicles operating on land or in the air. ROVs are unoccupied, highly maneuverable and operated by a person aboard a vessel. They are linked to the ship by either a neutrally buoyant tether or often when working in rough conditions or in deeper water a load carrying umbilical cable) is used along with a tether management system (TMS).
The TMS is either a garage like device, which contains the ROV during lowering through the splash zone, or on larger work class ROVs a separate assembly, which sits on top of the ROV. The purpose of the TMS is to lengthen and shorten the tether so the effect of cable drag where there are underwater currents is minimized. The umbilical cable contains a group of cables that carry electrical power, video and data signals back and forth between the operator and the TMS. Where used the TMS then relays the signals and power for the ROV down the tether cable. Once at the ROV the electrical power is split and distributed between different components of the ROV.
However in high power applications most of the electrical power is used to drive a high-powered electrical motor, which in turn drives a hydraulic pump. The hydraulic pump is then used to power equipment such as torque tools and manipulator arms where electrical motors would be too difficult to implement subsea. Most ROVs are equipped with at least a video camera and lights. Additional equipment is commonly added to expand the vehicle’s capabilities. These may include sonars, magnetometers, a still camera, a manipulator or cutting arm, water samplers,a manipulator or cutting arm, water samplers, and instruments that measure water clarity, light penetration and temperature.