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Remote Controlled ‘Robots’ To Keep Flood Channels Clear In Ventura County

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(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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OXNARD (CBS) — Ventura County’s Public Works Agency is welcoming two new remote controlled vehicles to the county in an ongoing effort to keep area roads, farms, businesses and homes from flooding during heavy rainfall.

The new robots, designed by Hard-Line Solutions, will help to keep flood channels and storm drains open.

“Sediment accumulations of dirt, sand, brush, sticks, trash, rocks and even man-made items like mattresses and shopping carts routinely wash down into flood control channels blocking vital pathways for excess water and causing flooding,” said Karl Novak, Deputy Director of the Operations and Maintenance Division for the Ventura County Watershed Protection District.

“It’s not safe for Public Works crew members to work in the confined spaces within concrete box culverts, and standard construction vehicles will not fit under many bridges that have low clearance,” he added.

Novak and Public Works Superintendent John Lagomarsino worked with the Toronto-based company to design the “LP 401,” a remotely controlled skid steer, which can go down into wet flood channels and clear debris while the operator stands up to 200 feet away, safely operating the vehicle.

“We have between 25 and 30 places in the county that require a vehicle like this,” Novak said. “Low bridges and places called boxed culverts where sediment and debris can accumulate causing blockages and flooding,” he said. “The new vehicles will allow the Watershed Protection District to safely clean out these areas.”

The LP-401 is remotely controlled from up to 200 feet away by a human operator who can manipulate the large scoop, while monitoring operation with the infrared light and camera affixed to it’s front.

“It’s a remarkable vehicle,” said Novak. “There’s only two in the world and we have both of them. There’s nothing else like them.”

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