Whatever you do, don't call the Hennepin County Sheriff's new remote operated vehicle a drone.
"My friends at MPR called it drone the other day, but it is not a drone, "said Sheriff Rich Stanek. "It's attached to an operator with a bright yellow tether cord. I don't think that would be very sneaky. "
The sheriff'a new $150,000 ROV was delivered in December, and by April about 10 deputies had been trained on the new equipment. The ROV was paid for with a blend of private and public funds—the Lake Minnetonka conservation District, for example, contributed $14,000.
Sheriff Stanek said the ROV located a body just this week in a car that had plunged into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. The ROV operator was able to attach the bot to the submerged car, and a diver was deployed.
The ROV can operate in up to 1,000 feet of water (although Hennepin County does not have water that deep) and can travel six knots with no opposing current. Sheriff Stanek said the ROV could—and probably would—be borrowed by neighboring law enforcement agencies in need of the technology.
So far there have been six drownings in Hennepin County during 2013. Three of the drownings occurred in winter, all of them on Lake Minnetonka. Additionally, there have been about 14 near drownings in Hennepin County this year.