KNOX COUNTY (WATE) -- There's new help for area water searches that drag on for weeks or even months, leaving families frustrated as a loved one remains missing. It's a robotic scuba diver.
Currently, when divers with the Knox County Water Rescue Team take the plunge, they can communicate with crews on the ground by voice. But now, they'll also be able to see them very clearly, thanks to the robotic scuba diver.
Divers are counting on the robot to keep a close eye when they're underwater on dangerous missions.
"It's got a lot of mobility. There are a lot of high risk things for our divers to go down and look at," says Capt. David Henderson.
Authorities say human dives are one of the most risky operations they perform. The submarine camera will help make the job a lot less risky. They can use it to help find objects underwater, such as a knife or a gun or even a car.
"We've had calls to bring cars up that have gone under the water. Divers are down there attaching lift bags. We could have someone on surface watching divers to know how they're doing, is everybody okay," Henderson says.
The camera has been donated to Knox County after a successful exchange program with Wildland Fire and Rescue, out of Sweden.
"We saw they had a need for this kind of equipment so we said go ahead, give a donation of this machine this year and see what's coming next year," says Fire and Rescue's Mats Andersson.
The starting price for a device like the robot is over $7,000. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now uses the robots to perform all their routine underwater inspections.
Authorities say Knox County is the only one in the area that has this technology.
Ten people died in boating accidents in Tennessee in 2005. Half of them fell overboard.