ROV Genesis | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

ROV Genesis

The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Genesis is deployed nationally, for research in the Belgian part of the North Sea, and internationally mainly for deep-sea research.

The remotely operated vehicle Genesis can dive to a depth of 1,300 m. During international campaigns, the ROV is therefore mainly used for deep-sea research. It provides the opportunity to explore the largely unknown deep-ocean margins and their biodiversity. Genesis is used to film, and take samples of, deep-sea canyons, cold-water coral reefs, carbonate mounds, mud volcanoes, cold seeps, etc. Since 2015, the ROV Genesis is also deployed from the RV Simon Stevin for scientific campaigns in the Belgian part of the North Sea. Both the RV Simon Stevin and the ROV are fit for shallow coastal water: to take bottom cores, investigate shipwrecks or to map the sea bottom.

The ROV is very compact. It is 1,4 m long, 87 cm wide and 1,11 m high, compact enough to fit in a ‘Tether Management System’ (TMS) (dimensions: 1,95 x 1,19 x 2,37 m), a kind of garage for the ROV. The TMS conveys the ROV to the seabed where the unmanned underwater vehicle starts its sampling trip. The total weight of the ROV and the frame amounts to 1,2 ton. The TMS and the research vessel are connected to each other through a cable, as are the ROV and the TMS. A pilot controls the ROV from a control room - a container mounted on the research vessel - and follows every action on screens. Six propulsion motors power the ROV (forward, vertical and lateral motion). An accurate positioning system tracks the position of the research vessel, the ROV and when needed other equipment.

The ROV Genesis is equipped with several lights, with both colour and high resolution video and picture cameras which can film and take pictures and with a laser measuring system (major update in 2016). The main function of the ROV is to collect pictures and video material of the underwater world. Especially at depths that are not accessible to divers, the ROV can be used to obtain images of the often unknown deep-sea world. A hydraulic working arm can perform simple samplings such as collecting a piece of cold water coral or deep sea sponge or taking small bottom cores. The working arm also allows the ROV to assist other underwater machinery for example to light up certain elements, to serve as 'underwater eyes' through its video functions, or offer the hydraulic arm as a ‘helping hand’. Depth, course, height, swell and slope are as well continuously registered, as are the temperature and salinity of the water.

Click here for an infographic for the Remotely Operated Vehicle Genesis

Click here for pictures of the Remotely Operated Vehicle Genesis

Click here for videos of the Remotely Operated Vehicle Genesis



Genesis has been operational since 2006 and has explored nearly all ocean basins: from the Atlantic and Indian Ocean to the Southern Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic Ocean. The ROV has hitherto (anno 2018) completed 29 campaigns:



Research Vessel

Mediterranean Sea (Gulf of Malaga)

August 2018

RV Sarmiento de Gamboa

Belgian part of the North Sea – various locations

July 2018

RV Simon Stevin

Porcupine Basin (west of Ireland)

May-June 2018

RV Belgica

Belgian part of the North Sea – various locations

August 2017

RV Simon Stevin

Rockall Bank, latitude of West-Ireland

Mei 2017

RV Pelagia

Belgian part of the North Sea, latitude of Hinder banks

August 2015

RV Simon Stevin

Atlantic Ocean, latitude of Galicean Border

September 2014

RV Meteor

Mediterannean Sea (Alborian Sea)

June 2014

RV Pelagia

Atlantic Ocean, latitude of Western Iberian Border

May 2014

RV Pelagia

Dogger Bank

September 2013

RV Pelagia

Western Iberian Margin - Lissabon (Portugal)

June 2013

RV Belgica

Alborian Sea - Motril (Spain)

April 2013

RV Pelagia

Dogger Bank

June 2012

RV Pelagia

Offshore Northern Perth Basin, Indian Ocean - Fremantle (Australia)

October 2011

RV S. Surveyor

Haakon Mosby Mud Volcano - Tromsø (Norway)

September 2010

RV Maria S. Merian

Guilvinec Canyon - Bay of Biscay

June 2010

RV Belgica

Whittard Canyon - Bay of Biscay

June 2010

RV Belgica

Antarctic Peninsula - western and eastern side - Punta Arenas (Chili)

January-March 2010

RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer

Cabo Ortegal - Vigo (Spain) - Zeebrugge (Belgium)

May-June 2009

RV Belgica

Gulf of Cadiz - Cadiz - Vigo (Spain)

May 2009

RV Belgica

West Nile Delta - Heraklion (Greece) - Port Said (Egypt)

November 2008

RV Pelagia

Guilvinec Canyon - Bay of Biscay - Brest (France) - La Coruna (Spain)

May-June 2008

RV Belgica

Gulf of Cadiz - Cadiz (Spain)

Juni 2007

RV Belgica

Hikurangi Margin - Napier - Auckland (New-Zealand)

February 2007

RV Sonne

Denmark Strait - Reykjavik (Iceland)

September 2006

RRS Discovery

La Chapelle Bank - Brest (France)  & Bantry Bay - Cork (Ireland)

June 2006

RV Belgica


ROV Genesis has been operational since 2006. The remotely operated vehicle and accompanying equipment were purchased by Ghent University and put into use by the Renard Centre for Marine Geology and the Marine Biology Section. In 2012 Ghent University donated ROV Genesis to VLIZ, which ensures the management and the operations of the ROV. A practical cooperation agreement between VLIZ and NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research) has been concluded to facilitate the management and deployment of ROV Genesis. Since 2015, the ROV Genesis has been regularly put to use for research in the Belgian part of the North Sea. It is there deployed from the RV Simon Stevin.

If you are looking for more technical information about the ROV Genesis, have a look at the corresponding equipment page.

How to make use of the ROV?

The goal remains to deploy the ROV worldwide for marine research, both on the initiative of VLIZ as well as by request of other marine research groups. If a marine scientific institute wants to make use of the ROV, please contact the Marine Robotics Centre of VLIZ:

Use and conditions

Note: if you use the ROV Genesis of VLIZ as a scientist, please refer to it in your publications as: 'This work was supported by data & infrastructure provided by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)'.