Benefits of Using Remotely Operated Vehicles to Inspect USACE Navigation Structures
ENGINEERING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER HANOVER NH COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates numerous navigation locks and dams across the country. Age and lack of funds to maintain these structures has led to significant increases in unscheduled outages. Dewatering provides the best inspection opportunity but is costly and halts navigation traffic. Diver inspections are costly, and safety is an issue. Frequent underwater inspections using remotely operated vehicles ROVs would help reduce the number and severity of unscheduled outages at low cost, with little impact on navigation and few safety concerns. ROV use was documented at two Corps facilities and one public utility district and their costs were compared with inspections using divers or dewatering. In each case, benefits from reduced labor costs, shipping delays, and lost power production far exceed the amortized costs of the ROVs. The payback period for purchasing an ROV can be less than one year, and their easy deployment encourages more frequent inspections. ROV technology can immediately help to improve Corps asset management and public safety assurance through increased underwater inspections. Most Corps navigation facilities should own a small ROV, costing about 30K, to conduct visual inspections. Also, the Corps should partner with vendors to improve ROV internal navigation and to integrate real-time position, sensor data, and visual images within 3-D virtual representations of its structures.
- Pilotless Aircraft
- Civil Engineering