Underwater drones to improve search and rescue operations

Drone ready to launch. Credit: Nido Robotics

Sibiu Pro and Sibiu Nano portable remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) have been developed to enhance an array of marine operations including; aquaculture, inspections, and search and rescue (SAR) operations.

Created by Nido Robotics, based in Murcia, Spain, the 16kg Sibiu Pro can operate in depths up to 300 m, can travel at a maximum speed of 3 kt and features an integrated 1080p camera. The camera is calibrated  for underwater usage and has four regulation-controlled 1,500 lumens lights, guaranteeing crisp, high-resolution live images.

The 5kg Sibiu Nano was designed for deployment in challenging undersea environments, usually inaccessible by larger ROVs. The Sibiu Nano can operate in depths up to 100 m, the same quality camera, and battery power lasting up to two hours.

Crucially, the drones can play a role in increasing safety and efficiency in SAR missions. Once a drone has located the victim, divers can follow the drone’s umbilical cable to recover the victim, benefiting from the bright illumination of the drone’s lights.

Nido Robotoics said that both ROVs are simple to operate, can be easily launched by hand ‘by anyone, anywhere and at any time’ and come pre-assembled and tested and ready to use. The Sibiu Nano is also offered in a build-it-yourself format for those on a tighter budget, and as an educational tool.

The drones’ are also of value in ports, marinas and the energy sector as they can be used to assist divers in safely preparing and carrying out detailed, environmentally-conscious subsea inspection and maintenance operations.

The small size of the ROVs is beneficial in inspecting the interiors of tanks in water treatment stations on board, checking for leaks while assessing coating conditions, sediment levels and the overall condition of such assets.

Both ROVs were to be exhibited and the Sibiu Nano launch announced at the Oceanography exhibit in March, which was postponed due to COVID-19.