ROV Plans

Local man works on state project with ROVs

Photo courtesy of An example of an remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV).

ALPENA — The use of remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) has now grown to be used by the State of Michigan.

Office of the Great Lakes Senior Project Administrator Mike Beaulac has worked on this technology in Lake Huron.

“I work for the Office of the Great Lakes it’s a state office. We handle a variety of Great Lakes issues. Part of them is in support of Great Lakes St. Lawrence of transportation strategy to double maritime trade in the Great Lakes. We look at vessel efficiency, look at automation of cargo. My role is to oversee that aspect of it,” Beaulac said.

The office has partnered with Michigan Tech and they use a variety of research grade and vehicles.

“They’re being deployed by various agencies for research purposes and investigative purposes for example like Line 5. We help them to discover shipwrecks,” he said.

The ROVS are deployed in a variety of areas and using the technology to expand upon.

They will also use them to help create interim guidelines for navigational purposes for U.S. Coast Guard since we don’t have anything for this type of vessels yet, he said.

“Alot of the reasons we’re using technology is it helps augment the researchers using vessels now in areas (of water) that are too dangerous. Or doing things that are too boring because they’re repetitive like collecting bottom profiles of the Great Lakes,” he said.

It helps to speed the process and it makes it safer because then people aren’t in the water as often or as long.

“You’re going to get into conditions that are dangerous or unpleasant this can relieve you of having to do these kinds of things,” he said.

One of the most recent launches was of a test pad in August.

“That’s in southern part of Lake Superior. We needed a space we can work collaboratively to determine if the technology is efficient. It’s the very beginning of the next step to provide information packages. A lot of this is going to be driven by the private sector and they need space to test it. A lot of the technology have application to vessels that are moving cargo around,” he said.

Jordan Spence can be reached at or 989-358-5687.