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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Police to use underwater 'robocop'
The LBV remote operated vehicle
Grampian Police have already trialled the robot
Cutting edge North Sea technology has been recruited by Grampian Police to help with underwater searches.

The force has received a remotely operated undersea robot for use with its underwater search team.

The equipment, valued at 20,000, is manufactured by Aberdeen based Cetrax Systems.

The SeaBotix LBV remote operated vehicle has been used by Grampian Police before to search areas in Buckie harbour, Aberdeenshire, that were deemed to be unsafe for divers.

'Underwater helicopter'

The force was said to be impressed with the robot's capabilities to search areas in a fraction of the time it would take a diver.

The remote vehicle is piloted from above the water and is fitted with a high-resolution colour camera and a mechanical arm strong enough to lift a human corpse.

A Cetrax spokesman said that high performance thrusters provide it with an "underwater helicopter type control" even in rough conditions.

The team is extremely enthusiastic about the vehicle and now regards it as a vital tool in their armoury
Constable Sandy Osborne,
Underwater search unit
It can dive to a depth of 300 metres and is controlled with a joystick.

Gareth Hendricks, managing director of Cetrax, handed over the device at the Offshore Europe exhibition in Aberdeen.

Mr Hendricks said: "It's the first to be used by any police force in the UK and, as far as we know, in Europe."

Constable Sandy Osborne, of the underwater search unit, said: "The team is extremely enthusiastic about the vehicle and now regards it as a vital tool in their armoury.

"Not only does it make the often difficult and hazardous job of searching for bodies or vehicles a lot easier, but more importantly it makes these operations a lot safer for the divers involved."

The team also intends to attach a sonar device which will enable the robot to detect objects up to 80 metres away - a distance which can take police divers several hours to cover.

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