Venezuela Picks Falcon for one of Earth’s Largest Dams

The Venezuelan Government has chosen a Saab Seaeye Falcon ROV fitted with a special survey system for inspection of its vast Guri Dam and associated turbines.

Built in the 1960s and one of the largest reservoirs on earth, work is underway to extend the life of the dam by 30 years.

For their vital inspection work, the Venezuelan Government chose the Falcon after reading favourable reports of its exceptional technological capability and the range of work undertaken by the ROV for the hydro industry.

Guri Dam, Venezuela, at over 4,000 square kilometres, is one of the largest reservoirs on Earth.

Typically these reports included a Falcon modified to swim five kilometers through a tunnel in Canada; a Falcon fitted with a full sonar system on a retractable device to inspect inlets and outlets, grids and tunnels at a major Italian dam; a Falcon sent to inspect 96 kilometres of tunnels under the city of Buenos Aires; and a Falcon employed to help position a 75 ton inlet structure to millimetre accuracy at a lake in Nevada USA.

7-2Falcon-on-white1The Falcon’s intelligent architecture can adopt a wide range of systems and its five powerful thrusters can cope with strong currents.

For a detailed survey of their infrastructure at Guri Dam, the authorities have chosen to fit a sonar and navigation system on their Falcon formulated by California-based underwater systems supplier Symphotic TII Corporation along with MB Services in Miami that incorporates an Imagenex 881A-GS sonar with an Applied Acoustic’s Easytrak positional location system.

Explaining the concept, Jack Roberts at Symphotic describes how, by combining both systems on board the Falcon, scanned images remain stable whilst the ROV swims around in any rotation.

“This particular set-up has never before been adopted for a Falcon and has the added advantage of being simple to integrate in the field at the kind of remote location found at a hydro installation.”

He describes how the multi-frequency programmable sonar makes it easier for the operator by providing a more stable view of the environment, whilst the ultra short baseline positioning system readily allows the vehicle to return to points of particular interest.

Also, by fitting the Falcon with a Lyyn real-time video enhancement system that self-optimises the image at 25 times a second, clearer pictures can be captured than would otherwise be possible.

It is the Falcon’s intelligent control architecture that makes it feasible to readily integrate a variety of complex systems onto the ROV. This, together with its five powerful thrusters for precise manoeuvrability and steadiness in moving water, has made the Falcon a worldwide success.

The small size of the Falcon makes it easy to manhandle, and the system for the Guri Dam will come with a special trailer and winch for working at difficult to access locations, all arranged by MB Services for the Venezuelan Government.

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