During ROV Jason operations on the seafloor there can often be ‘spare time’ when we’re waiting for a measurement to complete or when we’re traversing between locations for geological observations. Recently there was one such time when we were waiting for a measurement of heat flow to be finished. So I jumped in the driving seat of the ROV Jason!
With the offer to give Jason a quick spin on the seafloor I promptly replied, “I was very good at computer games as a child so I’m sure I’m not going to destroy the Jason!” Was this welcome news for the Jason operations team? I’m not so sure…
Piloting Jason was partly like playing a computer game and partly like using a flight simulator. But driving Jason is especially dynamic and challenging because the driver has to coordinate with two other engineers to move the ship and monitor Jason’s tether to its partner vehicle Medea and the boat.
Jason weighs about 5000 kilograms, yet is able to hover and move in all directions on the seafloor just like a helicopter in the air. I was tasked with the job of traversing laterally (i.e., moving to the side while facing a hill) while looking at the rocks. The outcome of my driving time was that I didn’t bump into anything, but I was about 45 degrees off the planned direction!