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H2O Drones and Ghost Diving for a clean sea

Ghost Diving and H2O Drones have been working together for a long time. What is striking is that Ghost Diving is much different from the other partners; they have nothing to do with water infrastructure or search and rescue organizations. So what does Ghost Diving do? They clean the sea! And they do this side by side with the ROV DTG3.

The DTG3 was gifted to Ghost Diving at the time by H2O Drones’ supplier, Deep Trekker. Two years ago, Deep Trekker celebrated its tenth anniversary and they chose to donate a drone to Ghost Diving because of the noble work they perform: fishing indigestible fishing nets and gear out of the sea.

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“More suggestions than facts”
According to Pascal van Erp, president of Ghost Diving, pollution from fishing gear is a major and still growing problem. At the bottom of the North Sea there are a lot of shipwrecks with polluting fishing gear. “Really unbelievably many. So around ten thousand.” There was a lot of fishing in the North Sea in the 1950s, and due to various mistakes, this has left the bottom contaminated with fishing gear. For example, it goes overboard or is left behind. And that still happens all over the world. “It’s so full of gear there, it’s almost impossible to describe. The problem with that is the material of fishing gear. There are some studies that describe the durability of fishing gear, but it takes so long for it to break down, that those studies are more suggestions than facts. From that, we were born.”

Escalation for a good cause
Van Erp explains that he has been active as a diver for a long time. Since 2007/2009 he has been retrieving fishing gear from the sea, together with his team of divers. From that, Ghost Diving was born. “At the time we did that with a group of friendly divers, but that escalated a tad as more and more people joined. Then we transformed into a foundation and we continue to grow. There are now about fifty of us divers and a core team.”

H2O Drones was involved in the donation of the drone. As they are based in the Netherlands and Ghost Diving mainly operates in the North Sea and Mediterranean Sea, H2O Drones was asked to provide maintenance and service for Ghost Diving. Since then, H2O Drones and Ghost Diving have been working together for a cleaner sea. A short time ago, H2O Drones came to the rescue because a cable had been cut by a boat propeller. This was then quickly replaced so that operations could resume in no time.

Safety first
According to Ghost Diving, the drones and service of H2O Drones are ideal for the continuity of the work. In some places in the North Sea it is sometimes too dangerous to dive or divers are not allowed to dive at all. A drone is then ideal for inspecting the underwater environment. “The divers are often in danger underwater, because water is unpredictable,” says Mr. K. K., “and they are not allowed to dive at all.” A drone can keep an eye on the divers or even do some of the diver’s work if conditions are too risky to dive. “It also saves a lot of money and a lot of time, because we don’t have to send a whole team underwater, for example. A drone can watch everything that way and ensure safety. Even in murky water, because they are equipped with sonar.”

Help and service
“We needed someone who has a lot of expertise and understanding of the aquatic world and H2O Drones has proven that twice over,” says Van Erp. He emphasizes that knowledge about drones and the underwater world is very important to their foundation. “The help is very valuable to us that we get from H2O Drones. They provide the right support and have the right knowledge. When we use it in our environment, we get a lot of positive feedback and notice the curiosity about the underwater drones.”

Partners in crime
“They’ve gone with us a few times already, along with the drone. Those were very successful days. It was super convenient that they were along, because we knew nothing about the drone. After such a day we were convinced that H2O Drones had to be our partner in crime,” says Van Erp.


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Underwaterdrones in unexpected places!

Under water drones are often used to make the work of divers easier and for safety reasons. Situations like this often occur in rivers, pipelines and locks. But ROVs can also be used with less obvious assets. These are locations that you never think about, or didn’t know about!

Drones in nuclear power plants

Especially in nuclear power plants, drones can be of great importance. The water in which underwater drones can enter is usually cooling water, in which various assets are located. Because this water can be hot and may contain radiation, it is less desirable to take divers into the water. Of course, it is important to check whether everything is still in order at a nuclear power plant in order to prevent disastrous consequences!

See here how an inspection of a nuclear power plant can look like!

Water in the food industry

ROVs can also be used in large factories in the food industry. Not so much in consumer goods, of course, but mainly in the factory’s cooling waterpipes and outlets. By deploying an ROV here, a cooling water pipe can remain active, and the factory does not have to be shut down.

Extinguishing watertanks and basements

Extinguishing water is used for exactly what you expect it to be used for – extinguishing fires. Fire water tanks are often connected to large fire hydrants or sprinkler systems. It is not necessary for this water to be potable, but the tanks must not have sand at the bottom. This can cause a crucial obstruction in pipes and must be removed from the tank.

Instead of emptying the tank and removing both all of the water and the sand, this is also possible with a suction robot! The DT640-VAC can drive over the bottom and pick up sediment from the bottom with a kind of vacuum head. In this way, there is much less water loss and the result can be seen immediately with a camera in this vacuum robot.

Why under water drones?

Drones are quick and easy to deploy, do not require safety regulations and are compact. The camera and sonar capabilities make data processing smart and fast.
With many possible accessories, a drone or robot can be customised to meet any challenge!


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Spie Netherlands’ experiences with H2O Drones

One of the most common inspections for our drones, is inspecting water infrastructure. We are talking about locks, sheet piles, bridge piers, and everything that is underwater. These inspections – often commissioned by the Department of Public Works or Dutch municipalities – are done by various companies, including Spie Nederland. We went along with Arjen Geelhoed, superintendent at Spie Nederland, and Mario Bergman, drone pilot at Spie Nederland, to an inspection of the Middensluis in IJmuiden. There we talked about the cooperation between H2O Drones and Spie.

 

Spie is a global multi-technology service provider and partner of H2O Drones. They too use our drone, the DTG3 from Deep Trekker. “We use the drone mainly when inspecting locks and lock gates,” says Arjen Geelhoed, performer at Spie. Geelhoed has been using Deep Trekker’s DTG3 for inspections for a while now. “It is fully integrated into the work process. We use it weekly during inspections and often for a few days in a row. Especially if they are large inspections.”

 

H2O Drones and Spie in cooperation
Now both H2O Drones and Spie work partially in the same sector, but we were not yet well acquainted with each other. Of course we knew Spie, but not vice versa. Thanks to a common partner, we came into contact with each other. “I started looking on the Internet for underwater drones that we could deploy,” explains Geelhoed. “I saw that RPS was already using underwater drones and after a phone call I heard that they were very satisfied with the drones and service. Then I learned which company was behind the drones: H2O Drones. Soon I had contact with Karst Beens, director of H2O Drones. After some conversations we started an enthusiastic cooperation.”

Geelhoed reveals that they also worked with an underwater drone before, but that the quality of the drone, the service of the company and the communication were not what Spie was looking for. “I won’t say too much about it, but it wasn’t for us. Parts and maintenance took way too long; it was all just a hassle,” says Geelhoed. “With you guys, it’s the opposite. The service is very fast and reliable. Suppose our drone is broken and we have no time to repair it, then we can get a replacement model from you. That assurance is very nice and reassuring, especially if you have a busy schedule or an important inspection coming up. Or we can ask if you can do the inspection for us. All no problem.”

 

“With the DTG3, we can execute everything very quickly, without the additional safety checks required.”
– Executive Arjen Geelhoed of Spie Nederland

The DTG3

The DTG3 is a relatively small and maneuverable underwater drone from Deep Trekker. H2O Drones is the officially certified retailer of all Deep Trekker products in the Netherlands. Equipped with a 4K low-light camera, clear and sharp images are a guarantee. Perfect for clear and deep water, such as that near locks. The work in itself with the drone also offers a significant plus. “With the DTG3, we can do everything very quickly, without the additional safety checks required. This allows us to meet our deadlines more easily. After all, fines are quickly incurred if a project takes too long. Also, the drone can be deployed quickly, so we can act immediately in the event of a malfunction report, for example.”

As with all of Deep Trekker’s other drones and crawlers, the DTG3 is controllable from the side via a controller. “You can move up and down with the camera and move horizontally and vertically with the drone. That gives a lot of possibilities, but can be a bit confusing at first.” Geelhoed emphasizes that it’s mainly an advantage. “The precise descending and sailing back to the surface is very nice for this kind of inspection. You then have to master the controls, but there is a handout with the drone and we received training in this from H2O Drones. Once you get the hang of the controls, it really works perfectly. The small size of the drone also makes inspections easy. Simple and efficient.”

 

“Dit lost simpelweg ons probleem op met inspecties”
– Dronepiloot Mario Bergman bij Spie Nederland

 

Future

Spie has been using H2O Drones’ underwater drones for a while now, but are there any plans for the future?
“We are satisfied with this model for now. It meets everything we need. But if a client like the Department of Public Works says they want to see more of inspections with, for example, sonar or other objects that are difficult to see, then expanding to a second drone will be highly likely,” says Geelhoed.

According to Mario Bergman, drone pilot at Spie Nederland, what is missing now is moving laterally along a wall with the DTG3. “This makes inspecting an entire wall a bit less efficient. It is possible with other drones from H2O Drones, though, so who knows if we’ll purchase a second drone.”

 

Satisfied?
“Yes, we are super happy with the drone” , says Bergman. “This simply solves our problem with inspections. And should there be a problem with the drone, which by the way we haven’t had yet, we know that we will be helped quickly by a service provider in the Netherlands. This saves a lot compared to suppliers abroad.”

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H2O Drones can meet any challenge! Our product range for all circumstances…

We always see different circumstances when we take on jobs. Often, the assignment description is correct, but it can also suddenly have a deviation (such as differences in water levels). This can make it difficult to carry out an inspection in the right way. By deploying the entire product range of H2O Drones, every inspection can be performed!

The product range of our drones and crawlers

Basically, the range can be divided into two groups:

  • Drones (ROV’s)
  • Crawlers

Drones (read: underwater drones) can navigate in water, and they need water and space for a good inspection!
Crawlers, on the other hand, are very compact, for small spaces that do not always have to be full of water.

Due to the large contradictions in these products, an inspection can almost always be carried out! So dimensions and water levels do not have to be a problem for an inspection!

The product range of  H2O Drones’ ROV’s:

In our range there are 2 basic products underwater drones:

Starting with the Revolution ROV:

The Revolution is a unique underwater drone. The USP is a rotating head. Why is this so important? A rotating head means you don’t have to move the drone to get different images. The drone can remain hovering on the same spot in the water, while the camera or sonar still gets a different image!

By integrating many different features, the drone can do a lot:

  • DVL: Automatically fight against the current and accurately maintain the chosen position and height in the water!
  • Sonar: Always a good visibility of up to 60 metres!
  • Laser: With the laser pointers you can precisely measure deviations or cracks!
  • Thickness measurement: For thickness measurement of steel, such as sheet piling or ship hulls.

And there are many more possibilities, such as GPS, hydrophones… Or like below: a Caviblaster!

The DTG3:

The DTG3 is a completely different type of drone! It is a lot more compact, and has mainly the basic options of an underwater drone.
The camera can move around inside the drone without moving. This camera can easily maintain a fixed angle, despite movements or currents!
We ourselves have built many practical applications onto this drone, such as wheels to slide over a bottom, a GoPro attached to the side and also additional lights!

It is possible to connect a sonar to the underwater drone, and a number of other applications to be able to carry out a proper inspection. Because this drone has fewer features that are not needed by everyone, it is quite cheap to use as a starter!

The product range of H2O Drones’ crawlers:

The range of crawlers also consists of two basic models:

Pipe crawlers are mainly for small pipes such as sewers, rainwater pipes and dry bridge culverts.
Utility crawlers are adaptable for many different tasks, and can drive over metal surfaces with magnetic wheels or can clean pipes with a vacuum head!

Pipe crawlers:

Pipe Crawlers are very compact, but still have everything needed for a good inspection.
They come standard with a 4k camera, the cable is strong enough to withstand a pull of more than 80 kilos and the crawler itself is easy to handle for the easiest of inspections!

There are many different models and applications:

  • Robotic arm for turning in all directions
  • Zoom-camera to get the perfect details
  • Different wheels and tracks for ultimate grip!

Pipe crawlers can therefore be arranged and set up to meet your needs, for the best result in every inspection!

Utility crawlers:

Utility crawlers can be used for many different inspections!
The MAG edition has magnetic wheels and can therefore drive on metal objects. This is useful for inspections of metal sheet piling or ship hulls. So there is always a close-up view. There is also a possibility to attach a sonar to it, in case visibility is poor or an inspection has to be carried out at a long distance.

The VAC utility crawler has a suction head to actually vacuum a pipe. In this way, sludge can be sucked from the bottom and the pipeline will be a lot cleaner again! This is important during major maintenance, or can be used for drinking water tanks. A crawler can easily clean drinking water completely, where humans always bring some form of pollution with them.

“What is the best fit for an inspection?”

Honestly, that depends entirely on the inspection purposes and the circumstances. Underwater drones and crawlers can complement each other well and can be used in many different situations. They have different fields of work and therefore different specialities.

It can therefore be an added value to take a drone and a crawler with you. This way you are always prepared for any situation, and you can take on any challenge!


To find out more about our products, or how best to use them, please contact us.
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Saving lives with innovation

Search & Rescue missions always involve danger. This is because the rescuer is often in unknown territory. This can lead to loss of time, which can make the difference between life and death. In the worst case scenario for the rescuer, the mission can become life-threatening. That is why we want to help make such underwater missions less risky.

With this in mind, we gave a demonstration to the fire brigade of Rotterdam Rijnmond Safety Region. These days, they are increasingly busy searching for victims who have ended up in water, and deploy divers to assist them. But why do they need the help of a drone? The answer is hidden in the first paragraph: safety! However, the drone does not completely replace the divers. Rather, we support the divers.

The drone will go into the water before the diver. This way we can check the environment for safety risks. For example, obstacles which the diver can get stuck behind or places which he should not swim in due to cramped conditions or currents.

 

What does our underwater drone offer for Search & Rescue?
Besides safety, we can also help make the mission more efficient. Currently, for a Search & Rescue mission, the search area is divided into grids. This grid helps with orientation and is intended to ensure that no spot is left unexamined or examined twice. While this is an efficient method, it does take a lot of time to make such a grid. But with our drones, grids are no longer necessary.

This is due to our sonar software! In most Dutch waters a diver has no more than one to two metres visibility underwater. Even with light these conditions hardly improve. Sonar, on the other hand, has a range of sixty metres and is not affected by dark or turbid water. In short: with sonar, the mission becomes much easier and can be carried out faster, allowing the victim to be rescued or located sooner. No preparations are required, only a few minutes to prepare the drone for the dive.

 

The fire brigade of Rotterdam Rijnmond Safety Region
Project leader Rick Koedoot of the Rotterdam Rijnmond Safety Region was responsible for the purchase of the ROV REVOLUTION underwater drone from H2O Drones. He confirms that the drones are mainly used to support divers and to search for human victims who have fallen into the water.

“Of course we have diving teams in the fire brigade, but that is a risky task,” Koedoot explains. “We want to work as risk-free as we can, despite the dangerous work.” He emphasises that the underwater drones from H2O Drones can be of great help to their divers. “The ROVs, or underwater drones, are equipped with sonar and therefore have particularly good underwater visibility, even when the water is dark or murky. That is important for risk analysis,” he said.

As Koedoot says, the drones will make a risk analysis for our divers, so that they know what to expect underwater. “This can significantly reduce the number of potential accidents. We want to know what the drones see underwater, such as obstacles. Then we can determine if it is dangerous for a diver.” After all, divers can get stuck behind obstacles underwater, which can create a life-threatening situation.

 

“The cooperation is super. The communication is smooth and we could ask and perform whatever we wanted and were well guided in this. Of course, we had questions and wanted to do some tests and that was also possible. That was very helpful and informative.”

Rick Koedoot, fire brigade Safety region Rotterdam Rijnmond

 

Locating human victims underwater is also what the drone will be used for. This can also be done quickly and efficiently thanks to the sonar. How Security Region Rotterdam Rijnmond came up with underwater drones as a solution is another story.

For his thesis in 2014, Daniël Boender, diving coordinator at the fire brigade of Safety Region Rotterdam Rijnmond, researched the safety of diving and Search & Rescue missions. Through him, the fire brigade came up with the idea of using underwater drones with sonar. Often when they searched for a victim during a Search & Rescue mission with divers and were unsuccessful, the police came to continue the search. They did so with a boat equipped with sonar. “And I saw some possibilities in that,” said Boender. “They then find the victim very quickly. If we had that three hours earlier, we could have made a difference,” he added. “The question then came to me quickly: why don’t we have that?”

Boender emphasises that diving is not without risk. “We have lost or nearly lost people during missions. I then started studying Integral Safety to tackle this problem. And with success.”

It went with trial and error according to Boender. “We tested a lot of options, but not everything was equally effective. At the time, these were interesting options with potential, but there was no decisive model among them.” After the test phase and getting the green light to innovate within the diving team, he ended up with H2O Drones through a tender. “Soon we got into a conversation and came to the purchase of a drone. The next step is to make this national. This innovation fell so well that most were convinced to share it with other safety regions.”

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Future
We are delighted that the fire brigade of Rotterdam Rijnmond Safety Region also saw the advantages of our drones and made the choice to strengthen their team with our Deep Trekker ROV REVOLUTION underwater drone. They chose the standard equipped version, which is more than enough to improve the safety and efficiency of their missions.

We will support them as much as we can in making their missions safer. To share our knowledge and skills with the firefighters, we are giving ten firefighters a course on how to use our drones (most efficiently).

We would like to thank the Rotterdam Rijnmond Safety Region fire brigade again for the opportunity to show what our drones can do and what an asset they are in Search & Rescue missions. We wish them much success with further missions!


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Cooling water and its challenges

We often tell you about the industries we work in. Because our product is still relatively unknown, the use of underwater drones is often surprising. But nevertheless, areas of application such as marinas or water-filled pipes are very obvious. But there are also areas where we can work with our drones that are not obvious at first.

This time, however, we are not talking about an industry that is still undiscovered. We want to know what areas of application there are that have a direct impact on our everyday lives. One of the first ideas was cooling water tanks and pipes.

In the illustration you can see which process the cooling water goes through. Industrial processes are mostly the cooling of machines. Machines that need to be cooled can be found everywhere. From food factories to car manufacturers. That’s why it’s one of the most common things. Most people probably don’t think much about cooling water, but it is essential for all of us.

 

Behandlung von Kühlwasser (Teil 1)

 

Have you ever thought about which companies need cooling water tanks and pipes? Probably not. Before this research, we were already aware of how important cooling water is in various industries. But only in the course of time did it become clear that cooling water is a bigger issue than we thought and is becoming more and more important. Especially in the context of sustainability, emptying cooling water tanks is no longer in keeping with the times. At the moment, cooling water is always being emptied and refilled. This has obvious disadvantages for the environment, but not only that! Disposing of cooling water requires a lot of effort and money, as extra machines have to be purchased and operated for this purpose. The problem, however, is that cooling water cannot simply stand still and that emptying it !until now! is the safest method.

The problem is that cooling water leaves the tank to cool machines. On its way back into the tank, it releases the heat again. This can cause a number of problems.  There are 4 potential problems to be aware of.

  1. Corrosion
  2. Lime deposits
  3. biological growth
  4. Pollution due to solids

To enable the recycling of cooling water, the water has to be purified by various chemicals. Various companies are already busy manufacturing pumps that regulate the supply of chemicals. These pumps can save up to 70% of the costs.

This naturally raises the question of what other advantages our drones can bring. First of all, our drones can visually inspect the cooling water tanks and pipes without having to empty them. This works similarly to the inspection of rainwater pipes. You can read more about this here.

But not only inspection is possible with our drones! We can also measure the water quality. This way, the work of the pumps can also be easily checked.

 


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Hydropower: Why do we need it? And how does it work?

We’ve told you before that we can inspect solar farms and windmills. And, what advantages our drones can offer in this area. You can read more about this here.

But there is one renewable energy we have left out until now: Hydropower!

Hydropower is one of the oldest forms of energy generation and was already used 2000 years ago by the ancient Greeks. At that time, water wheels were used to generate energy. In the 17th century, hydropower as we know it today was used for the first time. And since then it has been developed further and further.

 

How does Hydropower work?

Hydropower generates energy through the power of water.

The power plants are often located at a water dam, which accumulates water at the top and then allows the water to flow out in a controlled manner.

 

Hydropower explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

On the way down, the water flows through a turbine and then into a river.

The turbine is directly connected to a generator, which then converts the energy into electricity.

There are two different types of operation:

1.Run-of-river power plant : These can have little or no influence on the flow rate. Therefore, they are used to cover the base load of the power grid.

2.Storage power plants: Here, lakes or ponds are often used as storage. The operator of the power plant then has influence on the level of the lake or pond. This means that the production of electricity can be adjusted to the power grid. And can be increased or decreased if necessary.

 

Why Hydropower?

Nevertheless, the question still arises why we should use hydropower.

Where is the advantage compared to other renewable energies? Like solar power, for example?

The biggest advantage of hydropower in general is of course that it is renewable and very pure energy. Because the power plants are powered by water, there are no pollutants released into the air. Another advantage is that the power plants are local. This means that every country could in theory be self-sufficient.

In addition, the energy produced can be adapted to the energy used. Since the water is always available, energy shortages are prevented, which is also the main advantage over other renewable energies such as solar energy or wind energy. These are more difficult to control because they are not always available. Therefore, when there is a surplus, the energy must be stored for times when less is available. Hydropower can be quickly and flexibly adapted to any situation.

Finally, the water reservoirs serve not only for energy supply, but also for flood protection. You can read more about this here in our blog about flood protection in Germany.

Since hydro dams are no different from flood control reservoirs or dams, our applications are the same. How exactly we inspect reservoirs, you can read here. Especially with these inspections, the main concern is the safety of the divers. The water is clear enough to be inspected with the human eye. But even when the power plants are switched off, there is still strong current. This is dangerous for divers! Our drones are current resistant, or can be stabilized with an external crane.

Renewable energies bring many advantages and become more and more important, for all of us. Our drones can make a small contribution, but every contribution is important.

 


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Thickness measurement of steel objects: How does it work?

What is a thickness gauge?

A thickness gauge is a device that can be used to quickly and easily measure the thickness of steel, e.g. ship hulls and steel sheet piles. The device is used in various sectors, such as industry, hydraulic engineering and infrastructure, but it is most commonly used to ensure that steel thickness complies with industry standards and regulations. It not only measures the thickness and density of the steel, but is also used as an additional quality assurance tool in industries such as hydraulic engineering to measure the uniformity of the steel and detect hidden damage or imperfections.

 

Explanation of the thickness measurement method

With the addition of the Cygnus ROV Thickness Gauge to our ROVs, inspectors can easily produce a clear report of what is happening beneath the vessel’s surface. The Cygnus Thickness Gauge is easy to mount on the ROV as the cable connects the gauge directly to the laptop. When the ROV is in the water, the pilot swims directly to the inspection site with the drone. To note the exact location of the inspection, press the nose of the thickness gauge lightly against the inspection surface.

The thickness gauge then emits various ultrasonic waves and uses these vibrations to accurately determine the thickness of the material. The gauge is very accurate: to within a tenth of a millimetre. A second operator keeps a watchful eye on the laptop and records all the data with a click. Notes can also be made if necessary. It has never been so easy to carry out inspections safely and quickly.

 

 

The Cygnus ROV thickness gauge measures metal thickness and quickly identifies areas of corrosion without removing protective layers. By emitting an echo, the gauge measures the density of the metal by measuring the delay in the return of the reverberation. To get a perceptible impression, the Cygnus thickness gauge emits multiple echoes.

 

 

 

 

 

The first echo determines the thickness of the protective coating. Ignoring the time delay of the protective coating for the next two echoes, the Cygnus system automatically documents the findings. With these reports, inspectors can accurately determine the integrity of the vessel and make a sound decision on a maintenance schedule.

 

Caviblaster

CaviBlasting is a unique and innovative method of removing fouling in a cost-effective and safe way. The technological basis of the blaster is the physics of hydrodynamic cavitation. The system generates high-energy cavitation in a controlled way. Simply put: a combination of water and small bubble implosions is sprayed onto an object with great force, removing fouling.

You can clean chains, propellers, hulls, walls and pretty much anything underwater with it. This is a safe and cost-effective alternative to using divers to clean a structure or taking the structure or vessel out of the water for cleaning.

On the Revolution ROV there is a possibility to fight against currents and the small corrections of the caviblaster. This can be done with the DVL. This is the best way to work on spot cleaning to clear metal objects of fouling. This ensures the most effective steel thickness measurement.

Continue reading “Thickness measurement of steel objects: How does it work?”

Flood protection with underwater drones?

Last week we explained the flood protection in Germany in more detail. This week we want to explain how the use of underwater drones can, theoretically, provide support in these situations.

During all the events last year, we found some uses of our drones that we think can support flood protection. In no way do we want to presume to improve or revolutionize flood protection. Nevertheless, we believe that the use of underwater drones can help in places for work relief and more efficiency.

 

Indirect aid from ROVS

Our drones can help especially in the area of protection against floods. This part of flood protection is preventive. Mostly, the protection consists of structural measures to hold back the water.

Of course, our drones cannot help to build these measures. But. We can help to inspect them to be sure that flood retention basins and dams are in tact.

 

Hochwasserrückhaltebecken - Kanton Aargau    Hochwasserrückhaltebecken - Wasserwirtschaftsamt Kempten

 

In the two pictures you can see an example of a flood control reservoir. Our drones can swim through the culvert and inspect all parts of the reservoir, ensuring that no cracks have occurred. For dams, the inspection works the same way. The only difference is that dams are not only used for flood control. The dam is often used for water (energy) production as well.

In addition to flood control reservoirs and dams, there are also simpler belly measures, but they still need to be inspected. The main task, however, remains the retention of water. These measures can be inspected in two groups: Dams and walls. Walls are masonry or stacked stones or concrete. Whereas dams consist of fills, which are then sealed from the outside or inside with concrete, clay or similar.

 

In this video we show how we inspect a concrete dam wall. With the laser scaler in the video, we measure damage directly on site. This facilitates the reperation. In addition, it is clear in this video that visibility under water is almost non-existent. Therefore, in these situations, we usually switch from the camera to the sonar. If desired, both images can also run side by side on two screens, thus creating a detailed condition survey.
Floods are becoming more likely and more severe, so it is even more important that all measures are always in good condition. With our drones, inspections can be carried out faster and more cost-effectively than an inspection with divers. As a result, more inspections and preventive inspections can be carried out. By transmitting the images live to the controller, the inspection also becomes more accurate than an inspection that must rely on the feel of the diver.

Through this indirect assistance, our drones cannot resolve emergency situations. Nevertheless, they can make work easier and indirectly contribute to the prevention of flooding.

 

Direct aid from ROVs

Although inspections are only an indirect way to help flood control, there are also direct ways for us to help in emergency situations.

Bestand:Hochwasser Mueglitz Schlottwitz 113-1367 IMG.JPG - Wikipedia

In this picture, you get an impression of the power of the water. The search for people, is hardly possible for divers. But as seen in the Arthal, the first missing people must be searched quickly. Our drones can help with this!

We have been supporting the search and rescue service, Signi Search Dogs, with our drones for quite some time. You can read more about it here. Especially with sonar, we don’t need visibility underwater to search for missing persons. As soon as the first currents are weakened, our drones can be easily lowered into the water from boats, bridges or other places.

 

This quick readiness, not only helps to get a clearer view of events underwater. Our drones can also more quickly find people who have been dragged along by the currents. In the end, lives can be saved!

For us it is important to make it clear that these capabilities are only our ideal vision. We hope to further elaborate and apply them in the following years. We want, if possible, to completely prevent or mitigate disasters like the one in Arthal. And we believe that the use of underwater drones could be a good addition to the current methods.

 

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Flood protection in Germany

Last year we explained how the Netherlands protects itself against a flood. The reason for this was the floods that affected the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium You can read all the information about it here.

But looking back at last year and the events, we also wanted to take a closer look at flood protection in Germany. The events have also made it clear to us that we can also do our part with our drones. You can read more about how we see this happening next. First, let’s briefly explain what happened in July 2021. Then we will take a closer look at flood protection in Germany.

What happened in July 2021?

In July 2021, heavy and continuous rain broke out in the regions of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia. This resulted in more water than the rivers could withstand. Especially the Arthal, Rhineland-Palatinate, was affected. To show how quickly everything happened, we show how the situation in the Arthal changed. The WDR (West German Broadcasting) even developed an hourly summary of the events.

On Wednesday morning, the government had already warned of heavy storms, consisting of heavy and continuous rain. The flood control centres were also informed directly. At around 11 a.m., Rhineland-Palatinate declared the second-highest risk level, red, for some areas.

Then, at 5 p.m., the state environmental agency declared the highest risk level, purple. The ‘crisis team’ was then formed. A crisis team is a meeting of experts in which the resolution of an emergency is discussed.

At 19.30, the high water level of 2021 has already exceeded the level of the 2016 flood. The State Environmental Agency also continues to adjust its water level forecast.

At 9 pm, the water level was measured for the last time. At first, it was assumed that this was due to a power failure. Later, it turned out that the house to which the measuring device was attached had been washed away.

The rain continued all night. In the picture you can see how the water level rose in one night.

Landesamt sah den Pegelstand von sieben Metern um 20 Uhr voraus – Evakuierungsaufruf erfolgte um 23.09 Uhr - Rheinland-Pfalz - Rhein-Zeitung

The effects, however, only became clear the next day. Already in the morning, 1,300 people were missing.

Arthal after the floods:

Hochwasser im Ahrtal: Warum kam die Warnung so spät? | tagesschau.de

Flood protection in Germany

Many people still wonder why warnings about the floods were issued so late. Unfortunately, we can’t answer that either. Nevertheless, we asked ourselves how flood protection works in Germany and whether we could perhaps contribute to it.

However, flood protection in Germany is not generally regulated, but can be determined by each federal state itself. But there are also plans that go beyond the federal state. One example is the flood risk management plans for the Rhine catchment area. These apply to various federal states on the Rhine, but also internationally.

The general objectives of flood management are as follows (Quelle: IKRS, 2014)

Bericht zur Koordinierung der Hochwasserrisikomanagementplanung - PDF Kostenfreier Download

Prevention: In order to avoid further disasters, special care is taken to ensure that no buildings are erected in risk areas. In addition, buildings already constructed in these areas are adapted to the circumstances. The last point is the promotion of appropriate land use. Here, for example, the type of vegetation in the risk areas must be taken into account. Large plants prevent water from draining away and can lead to waterlogging.

Protection: Protection should ensure that floods are reduced in certain regions. This protection can be structural or non-structural. The best-known examples of flood protection are dams and walls. However, there are also flood retention basins to dampen the flood wave. To do this, the excess inflow is temporarily stored and slowly released again. Other construction measures include dams, which are constructed similarly to flood retention basins but can also be used to supply drinking water.

Preparedness: Preparedness refers primarily to informing the population. In the first instance, it is about informing people in affected situations about the risks and the correct behaviour.

Of course, we cannot help in all these areas. And we don’t want to presume to say that we can prevent big catastrophes like the one in July. Nevertheless, it got us thinking and we think that even small help is important, especially since floods will happen again and more often. You can read about how we want to do our part and how you can help as a private person in our blog next week.

 

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