Compact, portable ROVs from Deep Trekker aid low-cost inspections
With all the complexities of oil and gas technology, it’s pretty refreshing to come across something that comfortably fits in a suitcase – and all the more so if it’s a unique micro ROV packed with innovative features. If that wasn’t enough, you can own one for roughly the same cost as a single day’s hire of a rival model.
Based in Ontario, Canada, Deep Trekker designs and manufactures its own range of ROVs and pipe crawlers. With portability and affordability being its driving force, the company has produced some remarkably versatile, easy-to-operate vehicles (even InnovOil staff managed to get the basics within a few minutes).
The firm’s flagship vehicle – the DTG2 ROV – is a case in point. Weighing just 8.5kg in air and fitting almost within a cubic foot, its size and manoeuvrability make it an ideal option for conducting hull, storage tank and infrastructural inspections, and a useful tool for any asset integrity regime.
An in-built rotating high-definition (HD) camera in the centre of the vehicle provides a video feed to the screen/control pad – a familiar layout to anyone who’s held a gaming controller – while the pad also features a video output port to record footage or to view the feed on a separate screen.
Two side-mounted thrusters give it a speed of up to 2.5 knots. It uses these thrusters to dive and climb too, thanks to some clever engineering. By rotating the ROV’s entire outer shell while gravity holds down an internal semi-circular weighted frame, the main thrusters can rotate a full 180 degrees. With fully reversible thrust, the same system means thrusters can also move the vehicle forwards or backwards (though not side to side).
Deep Trekker claims it can even be out of the box and in the water within 30 seconds.
The DTG2 is rated for work between 75m and 125m depending on the model. A straightforward Starter unit comes with a 50m tether and screen controller, while the Pro and Smart packages feature longer tethers and additional sensors. The Worker model has these capabilities in addition to a fully rotating grabber arm, auto-heading and depth.
The ROV can be made even more versatile, given that Deep Trekker offers just about every conceivable marine attachment. New additions to the optional extras range include 4K cameras and diveable control systems, as well water and sediment samplers, cutters and even a thickness gauge for measuring wall thickness or corrosion.
Crawler wheel attachments allow the DTG2 to track along hulls or structures – meaning operators don’t have to buy two different vehicles to carry out different inspections.
Onboard lithium-ion batteries will run the ROV for between 5 and 8 hours on a single 90-minute charge. If you’re planning on being in the water longer, the company also offers a hybrid power cable via a 5-mm tether, affording limitless mission time while subsea.
Its price point is persuasive too. You can get hold of a basic Starter package for just under US$5,000, while a Worker version costs less than US$12,000. Given that day rate hire might be as around US$1,000 a day or higher, ROI is achieved in a matter of hours.
Only a handful of other vehicles meet the same capabilities and price point – we’re looking at manufacturers like VideoRay, Teledyne Seabotix and the intriguing Trident design from crowd-funded OpenROV – but as more enter the marketplace, innovative micro designs represent a step-change in how operators look at inspection techniques.