Innovation gives GCWA eyes underwater

A remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) has been specially developed to enhance our knowledge of the Gold Coast’s underwater environments and improve waterways management.

The new Rangerbot named Nyah will do a range of jobs including marine habitat surveys, seabed sediment sampling, maintenance checks on navigation aids and to help search for, and retrieve, objects from the water.

Nyah is the Yugambeh word for ‘look see.’ The name was given to our newest team member by a Gold Coast Year 3 student who won a recent competition to name the robot.

Nyah was officially launched today by the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, who said the Rangerbot would add another dimension to the management and research skills of the GCWA team.

Nyah gives us the ability to do a deeper dive under the water and improve our understanding of what’s going on there, whether it’s surveying seagrass meadows or checking for potential marine hazards.

Nyah will provide access to real-time information needed to effectively manage an asset which has a natural capital value of $26 billion and supports thousands of jobs in the marine, tourism and recreation industries.

As a bonus, this is technology which has been developed locally by the Queensland University of Technology and adapted for use in Gold Coast waters.

Rangerbot Nyah comes equipped with multiple cameras enabling it to look above, behind, below and in front of itself, acoustic sensors to help with navigation and a special gripping arm for retrieving objects and scientific samples.

Nyah will enhance our planning and scientific research capabilities by enabling us to collect data to help us better understand the underwater environment and the impact factors such as climate change are having on marine environments, marine infrastructure and habitats.

It’ll also improve the efficiency and safety of our operations in, and under, the water.

In the past, we’ve had to engage specialist contractors to check damaged buoy moorings or navigation aids or to retrieve submerged objectives.

With Nyah on board, our Waterways team can quickly launch it and see what’s going on underwater in real time. They can use that information to help identify the problem more quickly and safely, allowing us to implement a solution faster.

Rangerbot Nyah may also be called upon by other agencies such as the Gold Coast water police and Maritime Safety Queensland to help with retrieval and rescue missions.

Rangerbot Nyah technical specifications:

  • 330-degree field of view to inspect below, above, behind or in front of the underwater ROV
  • forward speed of 5 knots, with depth ratings of 50m
  • ideal for underwater inspections in tough environments
  • flexible use as can provide GPS estimate of position for survey data and
  • ability to add monitoring equipment.