The Center for Marine Robotics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently held their 3rd Annual Entrepreneurs Showcase & Leadership Forum from July 20-21, 2017 on the Quissett Campus overlooking Martha’s Vineyard and the Nantucket Sound. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a global leader in ocean research, exploration and education – and the Center for Marine Robotics is the group at WHOI responsible for revolutionizing ocean robotics.
The Entrepreneurs Showcase & Leadership forum kicked off with the formal opening of Dunkworks, a marine robotics maker space which pays homage to Skunk Works, the experimental design laboratory operated by Lockheed Martin which brought us such aircraft as the U-2, Blackbird and F-22 Raptor. Dunkworks provides a wide range of additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping equipment to quickly test and iterate new marine robotics products. Woods Hole wants to make sure that all marine robotics innovators have access to the tools they need to bring their ideas to life.
Next up was the Entrepreneurs Showcase, a collection of marine robotics companies and products on display is the LOSOS Highbay building. Aquabotix showcased our Endura ROV and AquaLens Connect Underwater Camera System alongside many other leaders in the marine robotics space. The showcase provided guests and exhibitors a unique opportunity to speak with other experts in the marine robotics field. The showcase concluded with a networking social and lively conversation on the future of marine robotics.
Day two focused solely on the Leadership Forum, which saw an introduction from WHOI Marine Robotics Director Dr. Jim Bellingham, followed by session speakers and discussion panels on the Emerging Defense Market, Flash Talks, Future Markets and Start-Up Funding. Key trends heard throughout the day included the notion that marine robotics is still rapidly evolving; vehicles are becoming smaller, smarter, more reliable, and less expensive. Underwater vehicle-to-vehicle communication technologies are still in development, and that the future of unmanned systems includes swarms of networked vehicles blanketing the ocean.
The Center for Marine Robotics put on a great event, and once again has demonstrated their commitment as leaders in marine robotics. Thanks to all of the staff involved in the Entrepreneur’s Showcase & Leadership Forum.
Photo credit: WHOI CMR
Offshore energy is a diverse sector of the energy market comprised of more traditional sources such as oil & gas, as well as more modern sources, such as offshore wind and marine energy. What they all have in common is their location, often miles offshore, cut off from the modern conveniences of the mainland. Although less accessible, offshore energy production accounts for nearly 30% of crude oil, and for the first time ever, offshore wind is less expensive than on-shore wind. Offshore energy operations rely on big infrastructure such as oil rigs, floating platforms and a multitude of ships for working and transport. With so much floating infrastructure, underwater inspections are frequent, and fleets of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are often necessary to aid in the installation, maintenance and expansion offshore energy production.
Three types of ROVs are typically deployed across offshore energy sites. The first are work-class ROVs, these are the work horses. Large, expensive, complex; capable of performing skilled labor with the use of large manipulator arms and delivering heavy payloads. The second are observation-class ROVs which are smaller, more streamlined and outfitted with high resolution video cameras and underwater sensors to give operators a clear view of ship hulls, underwater cables, monopiles and other infrastructure which needs to be inspected. The third are AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) which are designed for continuous operation without a tether; AUVs are programmed with a mission and then perform the task with no further human input.
Offshore observation-class ROVs carry many sensors and auxiliary devices making them capable of a wide range of mission types. The Endura NRG ROV includes 1080p HD Video streaming for real-time underwater inspections, a grabber arm to attach to inspection sites, an innovative new 360 degree rotating camera to look in any direction while driving into a current, high-intensity LED lights to illuminate inspection sites, and an optional side scanning sonar to view the ocean floor.
As offshore energy sites become more automated and better connected, AUVs will be expected to perform routine inspections without human intervention, thereby increasing the amount of data and intelligence being gathered about work sites while reducing the cost of repairs through preventative maintenance and automated reporting. Click here to learn more about ROVs for offshore energy
Photo Credit: Maritime Journal
The Aquabotix Endura was used for student demonstrations last week by the Advanced Studies and Leadership Program (ASLP) at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, MA. The Advanced Studies & Leadership Program (ASLP) provides a 3 week summer college-like residential experience that emphasizes leadership and development, and project oriented instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) areas and the humanities for more than 200 high achieving students from the Cape Cod Collaborative member districts. The students are rising 8th and 9th graders.
Mr. C. Eben Franks – a noted ocean explorer, researcher and ROV instructor for ASLP conducted demos of the Aquabotix Endura 100 ROV on four afternoons: 5-6 July and 10-11 July 2017. On each of those days, fifty students were given a brief description of ROV technology and how they are used for a wide range of underwater tasks. After an introduction to the controls, each student then had the opportunity to handle the tether and pilot the ROV in the pool at Mass Maritime Academy during each of the two hour demos. Additionally, 75 students had taken the MATE Center-sponsored ROV construction and operation course prior to the in-pool demos of the Endura 100. These students were particularly delighted to have to opportunity to pilot a real ROV.
Gil Newton, Director of ASLP was quoted as saying: “ We are phenomenally appreciative of the generous support that Aquabotix provided the students in our program. The excitement and eagerness was palpable as each successive group talked about their experience with the other students. For them to have the chance to operate a real ROV is unique and many of them described it as the high point of their 3 week ASLP experience.” C. Eben Franks added: “ The Aquabotix Endura 100 worked flawlessly, right out of the box. It was easy to transport and set up each day. The MMA Cadets who were assisting with ASLP likewise had lots of time to operate it and learn about its capabilities firsthand. It never failed to put a smile on their faces.”
Underwater camera technology is constantly evolving, and a major influence for change comes from the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) market. ROVs by their very nature are designed to travel to extremely demanding places, from the depths of the dark ocean floor, to the watery confines of sunken ships, and everywhere in between. One of the most important pieces of technology carried by an observation class ROV is its onboard underwater camera.
When you need a live view from beneath the surface, the camera you select is arguably the most important piece of hardware. However, the direction your ROV is driving isn’t always the direction you need to view underwater, and instead of turning the vehicle to turn the camera, we’ve built a 360 degree rotating camera to give our operators complete freedom to look in any direction.
How does it work?
The 360 degree rotating camera is an auxiliary camera mounted to the top of our Endura and Hybrid vehicles. It complements the pan and tilt camera which is always built inside the body of the ROV. A driver may select which camera to view (front facing camera or 360 degree rotating camera) and then freely look around. Once the camera has swiveled 180 degrees in one direction, it can then turn 360 degrees in the other direction, this allows 360 degrees of view without twisting the camera wires.
Why is it useful?
Many times, ROVs will land on the bottom of a body of water, hover around a point of interest, or drive straight into a strong water current. In these cases, the pan and tilt function of the onboard camera may not be sufficient to fully observe your surroundings without first turning the vehicle. With a 360 degree rotating camera you are free to look around while the vehicle maintains its current course and speed. This added freedom allows the operator to get the best video underwater video by always pointing the camera at the observation target, resulting in higher quality video records to accomplish any observation and inspection mission.
UUV Aquabotix Ltd (ASX:UUV) (“Aquabotix" or the “Company”) introduced a new model of its Endura ROV (remotely operated vehicle) designed specifically for the energy market. The Endura NRG is engineered to be more dependable in high-current situations offshore and effective across a wide range of underwater inspection applications, including infrastructure, dams and reservoirs.
The Endura NRG features a grabber arm for stability that enables the vehicle to stay anchored in high currents, as well as a first-of-its-kind 360-degree external camera, currently unavailable on other inspection class ROVs, that allows customers to drive the vehicle into currents and point the camera toward inspection areas.
The Endura NRG also features:
“As energy demands continue to rise and energy producers increasingly pursue offshore supplies, we wanted to provide our customers with a vehicle that could thrive in high-current situations,” said Durval Tavares, CEO of Aquabotix. “Through its ability to better acclimate to unpredictable waters and explore the ocean from all possible angles, Endura NRG is the ultimate mini ROV for the energy market.”
Aquabotix’s Endura is an easy-to-use, all-in-one portable vehicle that is single-person deployable and can be piloted using Aquabotix’s iPad or laptop applications. Endura is ready for the water in three minutes, with basic driver competency developed in three hours and professional proficiency achieved in three days.
Aquabotix also recently announced its new Live Remove Viewing product feature, which Endura customers can use for real-time underwater viewing and connectivity between Aquabotix’s products and remote customers via the cloud.
Hydropower is the single largest source of renewable energy in the world, representing a staggering 70% of global renewable energy. Hydropower is produced whenever water flows through a turbine on its way from the mountains back to the ocean. Popular forms of hydropower include dams, tidal, run of river and pumped storage. The primary benefits to hydropower include the low cost of operation, flexibility to adapt to changing energy demands, and zero emissions created during operation. Hydropower is expected to continue to grow at around 3% per year as global energy demands continue to rise. As energy demand continues to increase, so too does the need to monitor, inspect and repair infrastructure associated with hydropower plants. Inspection class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) provide the perfect means to efficiently and safely inspect dams, reservoirs and river-ways. Here are a five ways ROVs are used in the hydroelectric power industry:
Inspect intake screens:
Whenever water enters a hydropower plant it must first pass through an intake screen meant to filter out fish, weeds, trash and other floating objects from entering a plant’s turbines. These screens must be routinely inspected and cleared of debris to ensure optimal flow. The screens themselves may become damaged or rusted over time. These issues are best identified with the use of underwater inspection class ROVs which allow more frequent inspections at a lower price point and without risk to divers, especially in high flow areas.
Hydropower plants can prove to be a challenging environment in which to perform visual inspections underwater. The high rates of water flow can create a significant amount of turbidity which clouds the water with so much suspended particulate matter that the water appears hazy or muddy. To navigate and map these surroundings, sonar is almost always a requirement. Inspection class ROVs are often outfitted with sonar imaging devices to give an accurate picture of dam walls or the bottom of a reservoir.
Inspecting dam walls:
Failure risks for dams is a very real concern for those living down river and in a very few cases have resulted in catastrophic loss of life. Regular inspection of dam walls, even after hydroelectric decommissioning, is a first line defense against failure risk. Checking for stress fractures, cracks, or other signs of degrading structural integrity can be accomplished through visual inspection with an ROV. ROVs are maneuverable and precise enough to travel up and down, or left and right along an inspection surface, and can stay underwater for the duration of a mission.
Environmental impact and monitoring studies
Every time a dam or reservoir is constructed there is an environmental impact to native wildlife and habitat. With the help of an inspection class ROV, plant owners and environmentalists alike can keep track of the impact and restoration efforts surrounding the construction, operation and decommissioning of a hydroelectric dam project.
Search & Recovery
An unfortunate reality of dam security is the unauthorized access by those unknowingly putting themselves at risk of injury or death. The combination of extreme heights and fast running water can end in disaster for those who don’t treat dams with caution. The ability to rapidly deploy underwater search and recovery operations using inspection class ROVs can greatly aid in times of need.
These are just a few of the ways inspection class ROVs can be used around hydropower. To learn more about Aquabotix and hydropower, visit us at HydroVision 2017 this week, June 27-29, 2017 in Denver, CO at the Colarado Convention Center, Booth #404.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) held their Annual Conference & Exposition (ACE 17) at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA last week from June 11-14. Professionals from spanning the water industry were in attendance, including public water, wastewater, researchers, academics, and water advocates from across the US and the globe. With professionals from every water industry in attendance, AWWA ACE was a great opportunity to share industry best practices, learn from peers, and find the latest solutions to water works challenges. Aquabotix exhibited in booth #715 and brought several underwater inspection technologies to demonstrate, including the Endura 100 Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and the AquaLens Connect, both designed for use in potable water tank and reservoir inspections.
The week kicked off on Monday June 12 with an opening video and general session where attendees heard the inside stories and experiences from three AWWA panelists who lead some of North America’s most progressive water utility companies. At 10 AM the exhibit hall grand opening drew tens of thousands of professionals into a maze of nearly 500 exhibitor booths where attendees got to see the latest innovations in water works products, software, and services. At noon AWWA hosted a women’s networking lunch; and the remainder of the day was filled with a wide range of committee meetings, professional development sessions, and workshops.
Day two was Field Operators’ Day, with 54 professional sessions tailored to operators who work hard every day to ensure America has access to clean drinking water and sewer services. Some of the men and women field operators in attendance trained and qualified to compete in a number of water works challenge contests, including the ever-popular (and very enthusiastic) pipe tapping contest.
Day three was Small Utilities Day, with 38 sessions devoted to small utility organizations, many of whom could only attend for the day. Wednesday also featured the final round of the AWWA Contests, and a wrap party celebrating a great week and a look forward to ACE 2018 which will be held in Vegas and starts on a Tuesday instead of a Monday. Photos of the event can be viewed here: https://luster.cc/gallery/awwa-annual-cconference-exposition/
AWWA ACE 2017 also marked the launch of Live Remote Viewing for Aquabotix. Tank and Reservoir inspectors now have the ability to live stream a remote video feed from any Endura or Aqualens Connect, allowing inspectors to give a remote viewing option to the municipalities they are serving. To our knowledge, this is a first for inspection class ROVs in the tank inspection industry, and marks one of many great announcements coming out of ACE 2017.
For those in the water industry, AWWA ACE is a must-attend event. The sheer size of the conference ensures there is a session, a speaker, an exhibitor, or a product that you will connect with and learn from. The future of water works is being shaped by ACE, and we were happy to be a part of the experience. We believe that with the right tools, water tank and reservoir inspections can become a more frequent and less expensive activity. Click here to learn more about the Endura 100 for Tank Inspections.
UUV Aquabotix Ltd (ASX:UUV) (“Aquabotix" or the “Company”) today introduced Live Remote Viewing, a new product feature that enables real-time underwater viewing and connectivity between Aquabotix’s products and remote customers via the cloud.
Live Remote Viewing, designed specifically for Aquabotix’s Endura ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and AquaLens Connect (networked underwater camera system), utilizes remote diagnostics to allow off-site customers to monitor multiple inspections, operations and explorations from a single platform in real time.
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way our world communicates and interacts, and we believe that same concept should apply under the water,” said Durval Tavares, Aquabotix’s CEO. “We’re helping to address our customers’ pain points by transforming a previously singular, disconnected entity into one where multiple underwater technologies can work together on the one platform. Utilizing the IoT to produce the world’s only digital inspection-class ROV platform, we are confident Live Remote Viewing will be a game changer in the world of underwater robotics and the start of many future cloud-driven innovations for Aquabotix.”
The Live Remote Viewing product feature is designed for use across a wide range of industries, including aquaculture and infrastructure. For the aquaculture industry in particular, which continues to grow exponentially, the feature will enable higher quality, more cost-effective inspections of fish farms. Customers will now have access to continuous live feeds from the Endura ROV that can monitor the condition of the fish and nets, inspect moorings and assess feeding habits to prevent overfeeding.
Live Remote Viewing is now available to all Aquabotix customers. Current customers will not receive an upcharge to utilize Live Remote Viewing, but are required to register an account with Aquabotix to access live, secure feeds through the feature.
For more information about Live Remote Viewing and other Aquabotix’s products, please visit www.aquabotix.com.
Tel: +1 617-275-6522
This past week, Durval Tavares, Aquabotix CEO, was interviewed by the Bloomberg Baystate Business Hour with Boston Bureau Chief Tom Moroney and Radio News Anchor Anne Mostue. Bloomberg Radio provides up-to-date news on business and the financial markets to people all over the world. Listen to learn more about Aquabotix solutions, our IPO and recent growth.
Water storage tanks are everywhere. Drive through any small town and you’ll see water towers dotting the landscape. Fly above any city and you’ll see water tanks on top of every skyscraper. We use an incredible amount of potable water. In fact, the US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that on average, every American uses between 80-100 gallons of water per day, and an estimated 86% of the US population has access to public water. With so much infrastructure dedicated to providing a safe and constant supply of municipal water, it should come as no surprise that water tank inspectors are in high demand to keep our cities and towns running. Traditionally this meant sending divers for a dunk in your drinking water, however, inspection-class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are a great (and safe) alternative for potable water tank inspections.
Inspecting Water Tanks with ROVs:
When it comes time to clean, inspect or repair a water tank, it can be accomplished in two ways: with or without water. Tank inspectors and plant supervisors often prefer inspections and repairs to be completed while the tank is still full and operational. Draining a water tank is expensive, time consuming and wasteful. Draining also comes with the added risk of causing stress damage to the water tank, and leaves residents and businesses without water.
To do their job, tank inspectors must climb to the top of a water tower with all of their gear in tow, suit up in dive gear, and then squeeze down a port hole barely big enough to fit through to reach the subject of interest: our water. It’s easy to see why packing a small, portable ROV to drop into the tank can often be an easier and safer alternative. ROVs that run on internal DC battery power are the vehicles of choice for water tank inspection, because it means no generators or power cords need to be run to the top of the tank.
A live video feed is critical to quickly inspecting and documenting potential problems within a potable water tank. Problem areas such as welded seams, bolts, pipes, and gaskets can be checked for signs of corrosion. Lateral thrusters on an ROV allow an operator to move sideways along a horizontal seam or row of bolts for a thorough inspection. An ultrasonic thickness gauge, a form of underwater non-destructive testing equipment (NDT) is often mounted to an ROV, allowing an inspector to check the thickness of tank walls without harming the metal or metal coatings. Routine inspections and preventative maintenance are important steps to providing uninterrupted water service to nearby residents and businesses.
All water tanks will naturally collect sediment over time. As this sediment builds up, it must be periodically cleaned, similar to the bottom of a pool. This often involves sending a diver into the depths of a dark water tank with a large vacuum hose. The high intensity lights and high resolution camera on an ROV provide a good look at the bottom of the tank before and during sediment removal. Some underwater robots are even designed to aid in the cleaning process directly, further reducing the risks involved with prolonged dives.
Water tank inspectors are just a few of the unsung heroes who keep our country running. They risk their lives every day doing a job most people don’t even know exists. By using inspection-class ROVs, tank inspectors can stay a little bit safer while keeping our water clean and flowing.