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How does an underwater ROV grabber arm work, & what can it do?

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)

Have revolutionised the way we explore and study the ocean floor. With the advancements in technology, ROVs have become more versatile and capable of performing various tasks, including sediment sampling. One of the key components of an ROV that enables it to conduct sampling is the grabber arm. In this post, we will explore the different types and applications of underwater ROV grabber arms, with a particular focus on sediment sampling.

Motus imaging underwater ROV

First, let's talk about the different types of grabber arms. ROV grabber arms come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of mission they are designed for. The most common types of grabber arms are:

  1. Two-Jaw Grabber Arm: This type of arm is the most basic and commonly used arm. It is designed with two jaws that can open and close to grab onto objects. The jaws can be operated either mechanically or hydraulically.

  2. Four-Jaw Grabber Arm: This type of arm is similar to the two-jaw grabber arm, but it has four jaws instead of two. The four-jaw grabber arm is more stable than the two-jaw grabber arm and is capable of holding larger objects.

  3. Manipulator Arm: This type of arm is more advanced and is designed with several joints that can rotate and bend. This allows the manipulator arm to have a wider range of motion and enables it to pick up objects from different angles.


Underwater photography

Now, let's move on to the applications of grabber arms. Grabber arms are used for various tasks, including:

  1. Retrieval: Grabber arms are used to retrieve objects from the ocean floor, such as equipment or debris.

  2. Installation: Grabber arms are used to install equipment on the ocean floor, such as sensors or cameras.

  3. Sampling: Grabber arms are used to take sediment samples from the ocean floor. This is particularly important for studying the geological history of the ocean floor and the organisms that live there.


Sediment sampling

Sediment sampling

Is a crucial application of grabber arms in underwater ROVs. Sediment samples provide important information about the composition of the ocean floor, the types of organisms that live there, and the environmental conditions in the area. Grabber arms can be used to take sediment samples by scooping up sediment from the ocean floor and depositing it in a sample container on the ROV.

The type of grabber arm used for sediment sampling depends on the type of sediment being sampled. For example, if the sediment is loose and sandy, a two-jaw grabber arm may be used to scoop up the sediment. If the sediment is compacted and hard, a four-jaw grabber arm or manipulator arm may be used to chip away at the sediment and collect a sample.


Underwater ROV grabber arms are an essential component for exploring and studying the ocean floor. There are different types of grabber arms designed for different tasks, and sediment sampling is a crucial application. Sediment sampling provides important information about the ocean floor and its inhabitants, and grabber arms enable us to collect these samples safely and efficiently. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see further developments in the capabilities of ROV grabber arms, leading to even more exciting discoveries in the depths of the ocean.

Motus Imaging Solutions Underwater inspection

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