Apparently even in Lake Tahoe, there is no hiding anything from Nevada's Douglas County Sheriff's Department. That's thanks to a new $108,000 remotely operated underwater vehicle-- a drone of sorts-- paid for with a private donation.
The submersible is about 19 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 13 inches tall. It is equipped with cameras at the front and the rear, it has a manipulator arm that works like a claw and is capable of grasping something as large as a man's leg, according to Deputy Rob Skibinski. It also has high-powered sonar.
Deputy Steve Schultz said that divers are limited in their ability to search Lake Tahoe beyond the water along the shoreline simply because the lake drops off quickly to a maximum depth of about 1,645 feet. Schultz added that divers are severely limited by time and depth because their bodies absorb nitrogen gas which requires extra time in the water for the purpose of slowly decompressing before coming to the surface. Some of the deepest dives have been around 300 feet due to concerns for the divers, according to Shultz.
Skibinski noted that the submersible means that no portion of Lake Tahoe is unreachable for the department. That in turn means that any recovery operation for bodies or evidence that criminals might try to conceal in the deep water is more likely to end in success.
Shultz said that the submersible could be used to determine what environmental impacts occur in the rare event a boat should sink in the lake.
The submersible has been in used since March of this year.