(Walhalla, SC)-------------------------------------Airworx Unmanned Solutions, based in Piedmont, SC, recently donated an underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office to assist with underwater investigations and operations.
Airworx is an Upstate based public safety robotics firm. The donation of the underwater drone, valued at $10,000.00, was made through the Oconee Sheriff’s Foundation for use with the Missing Person’s Unit of the Criminal Investigations Bureau. However, the drone will also be used for use in other law enforcement investigations and other underwater operations conducted by Oconee County Emergency Services.
“The Missing Person’s Unit has received tips, in the past, on our current investigations regarding possible locations of some of our Missing Person’s,” says Captain Jimmy Dixon of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. “We have conducted searches in these reported areas, however, no remains of those missing were recovered nor was anything of evidentiary value recovered in those searches. With this new underwater ROV, we will be able to search in areas and at depths that could be unsafe for divers to further assist with these investigations.”
The underwater drone can be deployed and begin searching as divers prepare to go into the water, thereby helping to narrow the search grid for those divers to more effectively and efficiently conduct their searches, according to Captain Dixon.
The ROV can dive to depths of 330 feet and contains 636 feet of tether line. The drone also has a LED lighting system to help with underwater visibility and a 4K camera system. The video can be displayed on Airworx’s very own custom Go-Command case system which is a 24” UltraBright monitor that is viewable in direct sunlight. The ROV also has multiple maneuvering capabilities in all directions.
Captain Dixon also points out that the ROV is equipped with a robotic claw that can latch onto any object on the floor of the body of water being searched. All divers have to do at that point, according to Captain Dixon, is follow the tether from the unit down to where the object, or evidence, needs to be collected, if it is safe for them to do so. For smaller objects, the claw may be able to collect those objects, or evidence, without the need for a diver, according to Captain Dixon.
“I appreciate Airworx’s commitment to public safety,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “This underwater equipment will increase our efficiency and effectiveness on our investigations.”
“It is a pleasure for Airworx to provide a state-of-the-art robotic system to the team at the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office,” according to Stephen Baxley, Founder and CEO of Airworx. “We hope this system increases the success in their investigative efforts to solve cases and bring closure to the family’s associated. Adding this system will help alleviate the risk of sending divers down for object identification. The ROV can handle these tasks in minutes, even seconds, which would take hours for a dive team.”
Mr. Baxley is an Oconee County native and spends quite a bit of time on Lake Keowee. Mr. Baxley has been an active police officer for 22 years.
Airworx serves public safety agencies in over 43 states today, according to a release from the company.