Wednesday, June 16

This is how the robot that located the body of the oldest of the missing girls in Tenerife works



State-of-the-art technology was put at the service of the Civil Guard investigators on Sunday, June 30, to unravel the mysterious disappearance of the missing girls with their father in Tenerife. Then a month was about to go by without news of the whereabouts of Anna and Olivia and of their father Tomás Gimeno. From the port of Tenerife, the oceanographic vessel based in Vigo, ‘Angeles Alvariño’, set sail in search of clues that help shed some light on what happened that night of April 27. But despite the complexity of this underwater search in such deep waters, the Canarian mission of the Vigo ship has just produced its first and sad result: the discovery of the body of Olivia, the oldest of the girls.

The location of the body was produced by the underwater robot Liropus, which in the last few days has carried out several explorations, as many as the side scan sonar found something significant and worthy of being hoisted to the surface. This was the case of the duvet cover and the diving bottle located a few days ago and that a subsequent analysis confirmed that they belonged to the father of the little girls.

The ‘Angeles Alvariño’ focused the search on a specific area delimited by the geopositioning of the mobile of the father of the girls, aged 1 and 6 years. But what characteristics does Liporus have and how does it work?

Acquired by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography in 2010, this Remote Operation Vehicle (ROV) was manufactured by the Scottish company Sub-Atlantic. Valued at around 1.8 million euros, the Spanish scientific institution changed its original name, Super Mohawk, to Liropus 2000 in homage to a marine crustacean. It is managed by one of the leading companies in the sector, Vigo’s ACSM, that from their offices on Calle Doctor Cadaval they declined FARO’s request to explain the particular characteristics of the mission in Tenerife. Among the many undertaken by this company is the one carried out in 2011 on the island of El Hierro to observe the eruption of the Tagoro underwater volcano in La Restinga..

Command post of the Liporus and visualization of the images it captures in the background.


“In the Canary Islands near the coast there are already more than 1,000 meters deep”

Today there are technologically more advanced submersibles in the world than the Liropus 2000. It does stand out in the unmanned category for its depth of range and other features. It is capable of reaching 2,000 meters, the highest point in the area where Tomás Gimeno sailed that fateful night. “That does not mean that it is very far from the coast, because in Tenerife, as in almost all the Canary Islands, it is enough to distance yourself just 100 meters from land and you already have 1,000 meters or more deep, in addition to very strong currents”, reasons Luis Gago , captain of the ‘Ramón Margalef’, the oceanographer who starred in the mission to the Tagoro volcano.

Sub-Atlantic manufactured this ROV with the specifications indicated by the technicians of the Spanish institute. As a result of these contributions, the robot is prepared to take linear tours in vulnerable habitats, canyons or rocky headlands. Its six motors allow it to combine great power and load capacity to collect samples, in addition to carrying six types of cameras and measurement instruments without affecting its speed or the definition of its recordings.

“I saw him operate in El Hierro and it is impressive”

It travels inside a carcass that is more than two meters high by one meter wide. They are linked together by a kind of “umbilical cord” and in turn the entire structure remains connected through a cable to the ship, where the images emitted by the Liropus from the bottom are displayed. Those who have seen it operate highlight the precision of its maneuvers even in adverse sea conditions. “I saw what he was doing in El Hierro and it was impressive,” recalls Captain Gago.


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