At the NOAA SWFSC the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) program is currently based around a Phantom DS4 ROV which has been an active research tool in use since 1999. The ROV is managed by biologists and engineers in the In-Situ Survey group. Studies in the past have focused on squid fecundity, and current projects focus on stock assessments of rockfish and abundance estimates of the endangered white abalone. The sampling demands for different research projects and keeping up with the latest technology both require extensive and continuous modifications to the vehicle.
While the use of SCUBA diving has allowed biologists to study a number of marine species, excursions are limited by depth and time. Employing an ROV in research overcomes these limitations but introduces another set of complications. Equipment and operational complexities are second to producing statistically useful data from surveys. In an effort to produce statistically robust results, large amounts of visual, physical, and geospatial data are gathered through a network of devices. These data are used for detailed analyses involving investigations of possible linkages between physical and biological trends and the distributions of various organisms.
A very detailed report of the vehicle components, operational procedures, and survey methods can be found here.