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[WEBINAR] Dive into your Research with an Underwater ROV

RobotLAB Summer Webinar designs-Blueye-zoomLearn about how underwater ROVs can allow your students to take a look under the surface of the water and explore new frontiers.

 

Video transcript below. Peter Bowman:

All right. Thank you so much everybody for taking the time to join today. We are just getting started here, we are joined by multiple people and I am just going to take a moment here to share my screen and here we go. All right everybody, so I am your host, Peter Bowman and I'm joined today by several guests. I have to my left, vice president of sales here at RobotLAB, Cedric Vaudel.

Cedric Vaudel:

Hey everyone.

Peter Bowman:

Also joining us remotely, I have Maria Alejandra joining us from Bogota, Colombia. She will be interacting with you all today via the Q and A section of the chat and then all the way from Norway we have James Nixon. All right, thank you so much everybody for joining. Today, this is the second installation of Robot Labs summer webinar series, dive into your research with an underwater ROV. Today's webinar is brought to you by Robot Lab, Blue Eye Robotics and a very special guest from the University of Tromso there in Norway.

Today we have a packed agenda, so we're really gonna go ahead and just get into it. We're gonna start off with an introduction to Robot Lab and our newly emphasized higher education vertical. I don't want to isolate any of you folks that may be here from, you know, primary or k-12 education. We are working with this equipment and primary education as well as higher education. Just a lot of the information that's going to be spit at you, is going to be more relevant to higher education but if after digesting all this information, if you have additional questions and you'd like to reach out to us, please do not hesitate to do so.

We're also going to be talking about how underwater ROV’s are being used, not only in education but we're also going to be talking about how they're used in the real world as well and professions, you know, many different professions. The Blue Eye team is also going to be giving an overview of their catalog, highlighting their flagship product, the Blue Eye X3, which you see over here to my left. Then I also mentioned that we have a very special guest today, her name is Emily Venables, she's going to be talking about her experience with Blue Eye products and the Blue Eye X3 and why it's such a valuable tool there in Norway, at her university.

At the end, we will be doing a Q and A session with Robot Lab and James will also be available to answer some of your questions as well, so we're very excited for that. With that, I'd like to hand the presentation over to Cedric Vaudel, who will tell you about, a little bit more about RobotLAB.

Cedric Vaudel:

All right, thank you Peter and hi everyone. I really want to thank you for joining this session today, I really appreciate you and the time that you spent in listening to this presentation. A little bit about robot club, so again my name is Cedric, I'm the vice president of sales, so I lead all the sales operations globally. I have worked with Robot Lab now for seven years, the company itself has been founded in 2011, so we have been present for more than a decade. We are global so we sell our products globally, however, we have a strong presence obviously in the US.

We, Peter and I are currently located in our headquarters in San Francisco, we also have an office in Texas and we are growing and expanding, which is good. So we've been present for more than a decade in the academic sector, academic markets, so we work with a lot of research labs, universities and that's historically how Robot Lab started back in the days and from that then we also started to work with k-12 schools and districts across the US and in Canada.

I believe that what makes us different as a company is that, you know, we have a strong expertise in, you know, robotics and so based on these expertise, we are basically selecting the best of breed technology currently available for clients. Mostly, you know, academic institutes, so the idea here is selecting what's best or what provides the best educational value for, you know, research projects or for educational, you know, program. We also create curriculum, we create lesson plans and activities which can be very helpful for, you know, teachers or educators that wants to use the equipment to teach in a classroom, different subjects. We are working with more than, I think this number is a little bit outdated, more than 32,000 schools and universities worldwide. So we do have a strong footprint and basically we have two ways to approach a project.

Number one is, we do have a selection of products by, you know, category or type of robots or applications that you want to run, so that's one thing. The other approach will be basically for a university or research center that wants to create an entire lab and so that's something that we started three or four years ago and the idea is basically for us to design an entire lab from A to Z. So the way that our labs work basically is that, you know, we are going to go through a qualification of your project and we're going to ask you several questions such as, you know, what kind of ,you know, program are you running? The age group of your students? What kind of research are you doing? As well as, is there a particular type of equipment that you want to use or a specific focus or subject that you want to focus on in the curriculum?

Then out of these questions, we are going to basically offer you a set of different stations and each station will be basically focusing on one particular area for curriculum. So it can be industry 4.0 using robot arms, it can be human robotics, it can be smart transportation, it can be green energy and obviously it can also be a station around underwater machines and robots and obviously we'll have an equipment, a platform to present you in a second. But this is the idea of the lab, is basically creating an entire, you know, immersive learning experience for your students. So it doesn't have to be educational, we're also working on the, you know, completion of our research labs, we're also working with companies that want to research and are creating a new lab around, like AI for example.

So that's basically what we do, you provide us a room, we come inside, we provide all the stations, all the equipment, the robot, the computer, the furniture and I would say that the lab, you know, done by robot club is very different in the sense that it's very, you know, futuristic, very innovative, using the best of great technology currently available all into a turnkey solution basically. So, we come inside, we do all the installation, we do the training and obviously you will still have access to our curriculum and also ongoing support. So this is about the lab, we are working with, you know, the biggest player out there, from robotics for the human robotics business line, to Blue Eye robotics for the underwater robots and that's basically when I'm gonna ask Peter to go for the next slide. Thank you.

Peter Bowman:

Absolutely and thank you so much for all that information Cedric, yeah. We're basically, just kind of elaborate on what Cedric just said, we're here to provide you a platform agnostic turnkey solution, right and in order to provide that we really have to partner with the best but not just the best, but the best companies that provide a variety of solutions, right. So Blue Eye actually has an entire ecosystem of offerings centered around, you know, underwater ROV’s and this is why we chose them to kind of expand our catalog into this underwater robotic space.

Blue Eye robotics is the newest partner for robot lab and so this actually marks the North American launch for the Blue Eye robotics brand for education and research. Just to kind of, you know, make it a little bit more broad just about ROV’s in general, right, we have, you know, these things are being used everywhere now and the industry is only growing and getting bigger because people want to see what's underneath the water, right, and we can't always dive. You know, diving equipment's very expensive, depending upon how deep you dive it's also very dangerous, right.

So it's much easier, much more practical to send an underwater ROV into this type of space than a person. Not only that but when you have an underwater ROV with a camera on it such as, like all the Blue Eye underwater drones do, you know, you're able to record that footage and, you know, as opposed to somebody being underneath the water and kind of coming back up to the surface and talking about what they see. You're able to see what the robot sees, right and you're able to pause, rewind, zoom in, everything that this drone is looking at underneath the water and you get very, very valuable data this way.

ROV’s are being used both professionally and in industries such as search and rescue missions, fish farms, cruise lines, oil industry, etc. They're also being used in university research labs like, you know, marine biology centers and classrooms. I just spoke to a high school superintendent of a school district recently, who wants to put these drones at the high school, so that students can take field trips and see for themselves what's underneath the water. That's why I touched on earlier that, while a lot of this information is being geared towards higher education, there is a use case in primary education as well. With that being said, I would like to hand today's presentation over to our Blue Eye team over in Norway.

We already have two people who participating in today's webinar, one of which is going to join us live, James Nixon, he's the international sales manager. He has also recorded a demo with Tron Larson, the senior technical sales engineer over at Blue Eye robotics and with that I will send today's presentation over to Jay.

James Nixon:

Hey, thanks a lot Peter, we really appreciate the opportunity to engage with an audience of people that will benefit from robust tools that are easy to operate, easy to maintain and intuitive to drive. We truly believe that low friction access to what's below the surface is what is needed in a host of industries and in a host of use cases, not the least of which is environmental research. We believe that the more engaged you are with the ocean, the more apt you are to protect it, the more you study it the more you learn the better off this world can possibly be.

So we took on that task head-on and made it a sweep of underwater ROV’s that really can help bring what's below the surface above and really it's a data collection tool and we're super excited to partner with Robot Lab, as we're robot labs newest partner. So as Robot Lab our newest partner and we're really glad to be on this webinar and have this opportunity to talk about what Blue Eye is because we're a team of about 20 people we speak about eight different languages we love what we do. We're passionate about this stuff, the guys and girls who built the first robots are still with the team today.

So if, you know, if you need to get a hold of somebody, the chances are the guy or girl who designed that part of the robot is still with us and ready to chime in. So, we believe in the mission of Blue Eye and we believe in what our customers do with the robots. So with that, I'll give you a little presentation about us, who we are, our technology because that's important and then also our products because ultimately I'm not selling you a robot, I'm selling you an opportunity to gather data, really an endless possibility to collect meaningful, real data that can be actionable.

So allow me in the famous words of every meeting these days, share my screen. All right, so we are Blue Eye robotics, we're your eyes below the surface, that's what we hope to be. In terms of the underwater ROV market, there are what we call hobby drones, these are things that you can purchase inexpensively from places like Amazon, maybe even Walmart these days. Then on the other side, we have working-class ROV’s, those are hundreds of thousands of dollars, take multiple people to operate, are the size of small cars. In the middle, we operate in the inspection class ROV market, that's class one and two.

We are about 10 kilos in air, so one person deployable, one person operation. We work with a host of names you've probably heard, both universities and private industry also in the aquaculture industry to bring these tools to market and to people that need them. Blue Eye products and the ROV system, we believe that the hardware and the software must marry up, they must be a cohesive unit. I like to joke that I'm in the software sales business even though I'm a ROV salesman because I know that ultimately, it's the data that you collect that is the prized possession. So the way the ROV system operates is pretty simple, we have the ROV in the water, we have a tether to the surface, that tether has two purposes.

One is to provide control to the ROV and one is to supply the video and stills back to the surface. You connect that using a Smartphone or a tablet, we are eye friendly, android friendly, we're agnostic when it comes to platforms. So no need to get a new device to operate this, you can, anyone with a cell phone can operate it through the Blue Eye app. Then we ultimately use a gaming controller, gaming controllers are intuitive to use, they're very inexpensive and most people have some experience with gaming and more and more they have more and more experience.

So for ease of use, we went with a gaming controller to ultimately drive. We're a mechanically stable design, which means we have balance in the bottom and buoyancy in the top. For hundreds of thousands of years, human beings have been walking upright with their head on top and their eyes facing forward, that's how your brain thinks, that's the spatial awareness that our platform brings. You can't pitch the drone, you can't roll the drone, which leads to some really good footage which is ultimately what we're looking for. In terms of maneuverability, we have four thrusters, one vertical, one side to side and two push pull. So It really drives more like a helicopter than a plane. We also have a few built-in features that make operating this ROV easy and when I say easy, I mean 12 year old. I have a 12 year old stepdaughter, she can operate it.

Auto depth, auto heading. Auto depth, simply get the ROV to the depth that you want using a pressure sensor, we lock in that depth and then the auto heading using the magnetic compass to give you auto heading. So now, all you're doing is compensating for current, you are now at the depth of the item you want to study and you are now facing it, it's your job to compensate for the current.

All of the software and all the apps are developed by our team, so in terms of apps we have the Blue Eye app available in the app store or on Google play and also the observer app. So that multiple spectators can dial in to the dive on site and see what the operator is seeing real time. That's a benefit when you have multiple people that need to get in on the action and maybe not a budget for a dozen drones at one time.

So it allows everybody to kind of enjoy the experience and see what the operator sees. All of our updates are done through the app, there is no need to plug in your machine, all the updates are done directly through the app. As Peter mentioned, we also stream live over teams, so we can do that in a number of ways. The most common way is just over typical cell phone reception, 4G, 5G.

Particularly helpful when doing some kind of inspection that needs some external input, so rather than recording the video, sending the video, getting it all back and forth, you can just dial that person directly into your dive on a team's meeting and go from there. We support teams because we support Microsoft products and applications, you can use Google meetings, you can use zoom, you can use Goto meeting.

All those things work, but we just promise to always support teams. Then after you're done, you need to have some sort of reporting, that reporting can take many shapes. There is some built-in reporting functions right in the Blue Eye app, those will make simple dive reports, geo reference location to the top side unit, depth of dive, length of dive, any pertinent photos or video exportable as a PDF or a word or a CSV file. All of that information is also customizable into your own report. So if you have a word template report that you want to use, feel free.

If you have some sort of data management system that you need to feed this information into, by all means go for it. If you're trying to create a 3D photogrammetric project and you need the CSV raw file to send to your software, go for it. It's your information, you should be able to export it any way you want to. In terms of our host of products, we have Blue Eye pioneer, Blue Eye pro and Blue Eye X3. Today we've chosen to highlight X3 as it's our newest model and the one with the most applications that we feel will fit this demographic. So if you want to know more about the other models, feel free.

Click through our website contact, one of us will be happy to run you through them. In terms of the way the drone looks inside, all the drones carry the same chassis with a few simple modifications. But we have a sealed aluminium housing with no penetrations to the water type barrier. That allows us to have a robustness that is not found in most competitors in this field. Again, we're mechanically stable, so a part of that is the battery being on the bottom, allowing for some ballast to keep that mechanical stability. Thrusters are self-changeable, they take between 15 and 30 minutes to change the thruster should something go awry. Blue eye X3 opens up endless possibilities with three guest ports. Those guest ports handle a wide variety of protocols, multiple communication protocols, multiple power out protocols. With custom Blue Eye smart connectors, you don't have to flash the drone, you don't have to reset up your controller, you don't have to change the app.

When you connect an accessory to a Blue Eye X3, the information is inside of the smart connector and it automatically updates the control app to configure to those settings. So if you hook up a gripper, you're going to get gripper controls, if you hook up a sonar, you're going to get sonar controls, if you hook up a DVL you're going to get DVL controls and you can get combinations of those controls as well. Also, of note is a full CE certification, so for those of you who have searched, you know, products a CE certification is something that carries a lot of weight. We have thoroughly tested these products and we stand behind them. As we talked about, the guest ports open up for a lot of possibilities. So, you know, if it's under 20 volts and reasonably sized, we can probably power it and move it through the water.

Those guest ports allow for the accessories that we talked about and really we say its endless possibilities because we look to you to tell us what you need to get onto this ROV in terms of sensors, in terms of tools. We don't make these things and throw them out into the world and hope that you adopt them, we are a collaborative group of people that want your input because it helps us, help you do your job better. We talked about the Blue Eye smart connectors, those things are integral to the plug and play nature of our system. We want this to be easily operable, we want it to be a simple process, we don't want you to have to be a robotics engineer to operate this and collect reasonable images and good data. So that being said, plug and play is the way to go.

External equipment, I'll go over a couple of these briefly but I think that you all who are watching know which accessories are probably applicable to your field, so hosting a whole suite of sonars, from simple ping sonars all the way up to 3D scanning sonars. Navigation equipment, GPS doesn't work underwater and if you need to have some referencing, we need to come up with a way to do that, so there are a few systems that will allow that. In terms of sensors we have ultrasonic thickness measurement built in, we have cathodic protection built-in, cathodic protection measurement built in. We can offer a number of grippers, extra cameras, extra lights, whatever you need to get the job done. The external light and the external camera are particularly helpful when trying to survey something in a high current.

So, that way we can keep the ROV hydro dynamically pointed into the current and then look perpendicularly with our external camera. Also particularly helpful when you have a gripper attached, so that maybe you can get a good bird's eye view of the thing you're trying to grab. We have everything from simple open and closed, one axis grippers, to multi-rotating, multiple end-effecter grippers, it really just depends on the job you need to do, we’ll supply you the tool to do it with. As we talked about, GPS doesn't work underwater, so we have to come up with a few ways to work around that. We've partnered with a company called Waterlinked, another Norwegian firm to provide geo-referencing information. In essence, strap the transponder onto the ROV, drop the antenna overboard and then there's a series of technical things that go on to give you some relative position. Also, a water linked DVL, a Doppler velocity log gives you distance, trap the distance and time traveled.

So it gives us a way to track an area that we've been and also maybe even more importantly, get back to that area at a future date. The KMZ, KLC files that come out are easily overlaid on top of any maps program, simple Google maps. Also, a DVL allows us to get an altitude, an auto altitude. So we talked earlier about auto depth, that's done with a pressure sensor but that doesn't give us information relative to bottom. So if we want to do a long sustained survey that gives us good, consistent visual images, then being in the same altitude of the seafloor is a very valuable thing. Also allows for things like position hold, so we can simply lock the ROV in place with the dVL and take your hands off of the controller, the thrusters will fire in the background to keep that rov in place.

We talked about sonars, again a whole host of sonars from very simple to very complex. We believe in offering multiple product lines to people that have multiple, have different needs. So, you know, if you have to have 3D scanning sonar, we're going to provide that, if you need sonar just simply for navigation then we're going to provide that, if you need to know more about the sonar options, just get in touch with us, we're happy to supply all that information. Multi-beam sonars are a particularly helpful tool when navigating in low visibility or zero visibility. So, as we can clearly see here, the camera sees nothing but just 10 meters in front there's a full sunken plane.

You know the picture on the right shows you kind of the size of that unit, right. It's a very small unit, it's smaller than the size of a tissue box, let's say. We believe that software should work for you and so that's what we're going to talk about here for a little bit more. We believe that you should have access to the software development that we have put down, you should be able to build upon it, you should be able to learn from it. So we put together a great github library, there's a full software development kit. It gives you documentation, again full software library, example codes on how to control the various models. The SDk will enable, we say enterprise customers, we would like to say aggressive customers, to write their own software and download that process, you know, and have that information and data easily available. The software that we developed, we talked about the Blue Eye app, we talked about Blue Eye observer app.

We also have a file transfer app that makes getting that data off of your Blue Eye and on to your ultimate processing device much easier, full Blue Eye SDK and then again, the Bluenux operating system, which is our own internal Linux system. Bluenux and Blue Eye file transfer are two things that we think are invaluable to those of you that are going to do more with this data than just a visual inspection. Again we talked about a little bit on earlier, 3D photo geometry, using just simply the images and video from a Blue Eye and exporting a CSV file to a third-party software, we use Agisoft. You can create some really stunning 3D models just with visual display. So, we also think that customer support is something that you should be able to lean on, you should be able to get a hold of us if you have a question, if you have an idea, if you have a problem.

So, we offer introductory courses, we can do this live over teams or if you're so inclined, come here to Norway. We run a monthly introduction course, weather permitting and we would certainly love to have you. In terms of service and maintenance, we give you a whole library in our help center that will help answer most questions, the most commonly had questions and I encourage you, take a look at our help center, I think you'll be impressed. You know, in terms of marine research and education, we do a lot of work with Interneu, with a whole host of Norwegian and more broadly Scandinavian universities. So when you read something like, compared to diverse X3, gives us more access more, data more, make the surveys more efficient. Is there a safer alternative when we dive under ice and in dark conditions?

These tools are essential, they open up a new world for the students and that's the key takeaway here is, all of this is to say, we want to open the underwater world to students, to researchers. We believe that you should have the ability to see what's below the surface and it should be easy. So, you know, I'm sure that you've watched this and you thought to yourself, hey, I could use it for this, I could use it for that, you probably came into it with some preconceived notions of what you hope to learn or hope to see but as this presentation has gone on, I hope it's also spurred on some questions about well, hey, can I do this? Can I do that? So, yeah we have extensive history in mapping marine litter, monitoring coral reefs, inspections of all kinds of underwater areas. We like to say that putting a Blue Eye in the water is a zero risk opportunity, versus putting a human in the water which is a high risk opportunity.

Collecting valuable data from under the sea, let’s say sea ice which is a great application. Observe live animals, we have filmed all sorts of wildlife with this drone and no wildlife to speak of has had any ill effects. If anything, most wildlife is curious of what this thing is doing in their environment. So, at the end we say it's a sensor carrying platform because we really believe that the tools necessary to do this job are more than just visual and we want to be the people who carry those sensors around for you in the water. I've talked a lot about our capabilities, I've talked a lot about our capacity, a little bit about our company.

It's one thing to hear it, it's another thing to see it, so we pre-recorded a demonstration and I'm gonna play that for you now so that way, you guys can uh can see Blue Eye in action. Hold on one second. As promised here's a in water demonstration, I am in our conference room sitting comfortably in the offices and I have Tron Larson out in the Tron Heims fjord at Costa Rica. He's going to put the ROV in the water and show you what we can do. It's all well and good to hear about it and see it on a power point, but it's another thing to see it live in the wild and as we talked about one of the great perks of our platform is being able to live stream over teams and you'll get to see that here. So Tron take it away.

Tron Larson:

Yeah, thank you James. As you can see I'm here at Costa Rica, it's just outside the city center. I have my drone ready to go down on docks, so I think I’ll just get in the water. So I'll switch over to screen sharing and start the Blue app, that way you can see what I'm doing. Can you see my screen now James?

James Nixon:

I can.

Tron Larson:

Now let's get, get out diving.

James Nixon:

It took Tron about two minutes to get this out of the box and ready to go. So in the course of time that it takes you to pour your coffee in the morning, you can have this in the water.

Tron Larson:

Yeah. I came down here just a few minutes ago, we just launched the drone and connected two teams.Is just outside the city, you can see here we have a bit of freshwater here. I'm going to get the drone down, so you can see where we are. The visibility will be even better when I get deeper down, I just want to show you the area. We have some waste-water pipes over here, so I'm just going to drive over to those, for some research environmental impact from human interaction can be a big deal.

So I thought going over to these pipes and just checking out those first and then we'll see more about the kelp. We can see here, you can also do some sampling underwater. Just to give you some input, you can see on the lower left corner, you can see the depth at 1.7 meters and the distance to the sea floor below and I can easily drive around. I’m going deeper now to try to find the pipes, they're coming out from the structure here right behind me.

The other things you can see on the screen, you can see I have date and time on top, I have a compass in the center on top and then along the top line you have dive data from the drone and on the lower left we have auto depth, auto heading and that's kind of like autopilot functions keeping the drone in, and in the one direction I'm looking at. So here we're going a bit deeper, you can see the visibility is getting better and I'll just start recording, so we can go through the, what we see afterwards. So already we're lucky, we have some fish circled around above us, I got a really scenic view here.

James Nixon:

That's one of the things that we've noticed in our testing, is that marine life doesn't really run away from our ROV and if anything it becomes curious and starts looking. I don't know why that is but it is, yeah.

Tron Larson:

You can see here, the waste-water pipes coming up from the ground and going down to the deep ocean. There is often a lot of life around these pipes, we see both kelp and other marine growth on them and we see fish living in and around them. Of course, if there were any damages to the pipes, we could clearly see it on the screen here. You can also see this fish, it doesn't really care that I'm here if I don't get too close. This is a Pollock and I think I'm about one meter or three feet away from it. I just, if I go down a bit more I can tilt the camera up. No it didn't want to get too close to me. So you see, I can tilt the camera up and down to get the angle I want, depending on where you are and I can just follow this fish around. The sediments you see in water is just, we have a river close by, so i caught a lot of fresh water run-offs here. But even that, even without it I can clearly see here, I'm not that deep, we have quite good diving conditions. If it was darker, I could turn my lights on, I'm going to show you some examples of that. But here I just want to get really close to these hydroids here, see if I can get a beautiful view.

James Nixon:

Tron, make sure you take a couple of still photos for us there.

Tron Larson:

Yeah. So we have the option of making video recordings and also still pictures, so I can have the video recording going and I can still take a few pictures. All the pictures are stored on the drone itself in full HD, so it's quite easy to take out afterwards either on my phone or a computer, to create reports. I am live streaming this, all this is going through teams, there's practically no delay this way. If Jay wanted to, saw something I didn't, he can just tell me to go back, go up, go wherever I want or if you find something you don't know what is, I mean it's this environmental problem or some animal or plant you don't know, you can connect a remote and just have some specialist connect on teams and help you out with what it is. If it’s something you want to do, a sample from or a photo grammetry model.

Everything control on the drone is input based, so I can do a really slow motion movement here. You can see, I can get really close. I'm starting to get a shadow here, so I'll turn a bit of lights on. Lights are adjustable and you can see as the lights have a CR rating of 90%, which is the color rendition is 90% of what the human eye can see. So, by turning on the lights, I can get the red colors in the ocean quite clearly for, out and that can help me if I needed to do a identification of this type of kelp or any of the other things you find, plants, animals. I'll speed up a bit and I'll go over to where we have more kelp forest, I think we will have a bit more, a bit more life over there. So of course, I have been driving these drones for quite a bit but they are really easy to operate.

I do a lot of training on boarding with our customers, our users and most people can quite comfortably operate this drone within minutes. I've had people picking up samples from the seafloor less than five minutes after touching the drone for the first time. Of course some people need a bit more training time but within an hour or two, most people can do pretty much what they need with the drone within the limits. All the fish, you can see the fish is really interested but they really don't care about the drone. I've been watching crabs and fish fight about food on the seafloor and not caring that I am here and I'm not a fully marine biologist but I think when the fish feeds right in front of you, there's a good chance they don't care that you're there.

See this, it's a small blueye, t's a bit small and I don't have the appropriate end effecter to pick that up. If I was doing a real biological sampling, we have different end effectors that's you can attach to this gripper. So, you have a soft claw that I would probably use if I were picking up any bio biological samples here. I’ll try to pick up this, oh it's a rock or a shell here. Getting the perspective right when you do this in the beginning can be a big challenge, but because the drone is so quiet, so easy to operate, you really have time to just carefully go in.

I picked it up, I'll just speed up a bit more and you can see I picked up, yeah it was a rock. You see, I could quite easily pick up the rock, turn it around, if I had a basket down here, I could drop it in that or I can drive it up to the surface to get this sample back. You can also see I'm down to 8.5 meters here, the depth reading of this thing is a thousand feet or 300 meters. I've been down to those kinds of depths and I could still operate a drone quite reliably and you can too, it's just a matter of a bit of training. So I'll just drop the rock here, I'm not a geologist so I don't think it's really what I want to bring up. I'll just move a bit up in this kelp forest and see what I can find over here. Again, here you can see, due to shadows and the red light just appearing underwater, I can change, adjust the lights to get out the details and even pictures.

James Nixon:

Our stream is a little wonky right now, but like Tron said earlier, all of the footage is stored in full HD on the drone.

Tron Larson:

Yeah. Also on my screen, I have it practically in full HD on my screen. It's just, sometimes teams doesn't want to transfer all the video at once but if you have 4G or 5G connection, you can really get these, you're seeing from anywhere around the world. I've done this remote diving all across the world, diving from Norway with people guiding me, from Hong Kong, Brazil, Houston, so it really is a very easy accessible tool.

James Nixon:

Tron, is that a keychain down there on the seafloor?

Tron Larson:

Yeah, it looks like it. Oh, let's do something good while we're here and pick that up, bring it home. See, so I’m just finding the correct angle, turning on slow motion so I get a bit more control over the drone. Take a picture before I start picking it up. You see here, I'm just taking it really easy, there's no point of rushing this. The drone is really stable by itself, I don't want to roll up sediments. It's not a lot of sediments here but if there are sediments you can just put on slow motion and you can operate really close to the sea floor without whirling any sediments. You see I'm starting to hit the rocks here, a bit forward back. Maybe that's a loop, I can get the… I think this will be good enough, I’ll just close the gripper here. Take a long still picture, speed it up a bit. Oh, look what I got.

James Nixon:

What is it attached to, some kind of maybe off a sailboat or something huh?

Tron Larson:

I think it's actually something from free divers.

James Nixon:

All right and at that point, we pulled it up and it's now in our office hanging on the wall of stuff that we've collected during dives. I think the key thing to take away from that is, he couldn't see that object while he was operating it because he's focused on operating and also that's a smaller screen, but I'm sitting in the office, I could see it as clearly as you could see it, right. The ability to have multiple spectators in is invaluable. We really thank you very much Robot Lab for having us here, we really thank you all, the people who attended for learning more about what A; Robot Lab can do and B; what Blue Eye can help Robot Lab do for you. We really welcome all questions, we welcome all feedback. That's how we grow, that is our business model, giving clients, consumers, customers the things they need to do their jobs every day. We're passionate, we're driven, if you can think of a scenario where this thing can go, let us know because we sure would like to help you get there. With that, I'll throw it right back to Peter, thank you very much for your time.

Peter Bowman:

Thank you so much James, I mean I can't stress you enough how impressive all of that is and was and you know, we are very passionate about what we do in partnering with our collaborators in education and giving them the tools that they need and having a partner like Blue Eye that is so dedicated to what they do. A partner that's actually born out of a university, right and knows what these researchers and educators need is as you mentioned, it's invaluable and we're excited to embark on this on this partnership and spread the knowledge and spread the tools, so that other people can spread knowledge, right. Just more to that point, I will again share my screen here and as I mentioned earlier at the beginning of the presentation, we are joined today by a recording from a very special guest, Emily Venables. She's the head engineer at the university of Trosmo and she has since again sent us a recording today, to talk to you from an educator's point of view about what exactly you guys can be or should be doing with this type of equipment and so we will

Peter Bowman:

Sorry about that everybody…

Emily Venables:

In northern Norway, my name is Emily Venables, I'm a technician at the university of Thosmo. I work within the arctic marine biology department there, but my role is as an engineer rather than a researcher and I look after all the marine robotics that we are implementing within the department. As a university, a massive benefit to the students that are studying marine biology is to be able to get a first eye view of what they're studying under water. So without becoming a scuba diver, Blue Eyes make them able to see the organisms that they're studying and get a really good view of what they're looking at underwater.

In the past, they've only been able to look at videos, you know, what's been or what's been trawled up, samples that they can count but now they can come down to the beach, they can come on a cruise and they can have a live display of what they're sampling underneath them and how those communities interact. UIT recently has taken delivery of a number of Blue Eye ROV’s and we're trying to integrate them into the marine biology courses, into research projects and my job is to enable people to use them.

So the first thing I've done is, set up a checklist, give people some basic tips and training, not really much more than is in the operations manual but it's good to talk these things through with people, make sure they remember things like putting the connector caps on once they've charged the battery. But the great thing about blue eyes is they really are quite full proof, they're quite simple to use, they're very robust. So, really we're just trying to encourage people to use them, not be scared. On the marine biology course, the students have been able so far to use the ROV’s to extend their studies of the intertidal zone, so every year there is a trip to the intertidal zone and they look at the species that are living on the shoreline and having the ROV enables them to continue their transects of what they can see on the beach, further underwater.

It also means that they can see intertidal species but when the tide's in, so how they behave differently. When they're flooded as opposed to when they're on the beach. The ROV’s were super valuable for a student crews when we were working with Eunice, the university in Svalbard, where there were postgraduate students on a benthic ecology course and we were able to take ROV’s on that cruise with them and they were using the video as part of their analysis, they could analyze the images from the ROV’s to see what species were living in the various zones, in the different fjords, at different depths.

That was really useful for them. Blue Eyes are great in that they are, you can so quickly have eyes underwater. It's very simple to set up and you can quickly record video, get images of things that normally you'd have to have a lot of faff and put dive gear on or send a camera down that maybe wasn't real time. Blue Eyes are just instant, heads up display of what you're looking at underwater, so really helpful. The biggest difference between Blue Eye and other underwater technology that I've used myself is primarily the app nature of it.

The app makes things very simple, it makes the connections quite straightforward, most of the instrumentation I've used in the past has been quite heavy, more programming language to speak to the instruments, usually through a laptop, whereas the setup on your phone with an app makes it really, really easy. So one of the research projects that we're using the blue eyes for at the moment is going to be a slow process but we have a very long time series of photo stations and those photos have always been taken by divers and we're working on whether at some point, the ROV technology and the image quality from ROV’s can ultimately replace diver footage because they are a lot cheaper than divers. Thanks for listening to me and good luck with your Blue Eyes.

Peter Bowman:

All right, thank you, thank you so much Cedric for that. We are coming up now on the end of today's webinar. I'd like to take out some time to again really, really thank the dedicated people of the Blue Eye team, James Nixon who joined us today live, Tron Larson who participated in the demo that you saw and the rest of the Blue Eye team that was not able to join for today's webinar but are working very, very hard behind the scenes to make all of this content happen.

Again, we are short, running a little bit short on time but I am going to be going through some of the questions that we see here in the chat, so I'm going to open those up. We have one customer who is talking about the high cost of some of the products that we've been talking about. I love that question actually and the reason why I bring that up is because, you know, we are platform agnostic, right and it's why we also love working with Blue Eyes because they have a wide range of projects, products, excuse me, to fit a wide range of budgets, right. So there's lots of uh grants that are out there for startups and, you know, people that can help in affording this type of equipment.

You know, unfortunately this technology is expensive to make, so it can be a little bit costly but that does not mean that you don't have access to it. You know, you just reach out to us and we can try our best to guide you in that mission to gain the funding to bring these tools to your program. So again, thank you so much for that question. Do we accept students or internships or is there a provision for a student bench work in your company? You know, this isn't something that we've explored in the past, we're always open to partnerships. I believe that you actually joined from last week's webinar as well, so thank you so much for your time, both last week and this week. I did send you an email as well so you should have my information, my information is also displayed on the screen.

So if anybody here is interested in partnerships or would like to talk about any product spoken about today or during the rest of our webinar series, again do not hesitate to reach out to myself either via email peterrobotlab.com or my cell phone number displayed there on the screen. One last question before we conclude today's webinar. We have, all the water we've seen is very calm, what happens when you are in moderate waves? How do you get closer but avoid running into things? James, I'll let you take that one.

James Nixon:

Yeah, absolutely, We do have the benefit here in Norway of having particularly nice water conditions, cold clear water. We do not have a test tank, we use these things in the real world. Current conditions, the speed at which water flows are obviously a concern for any type of in-water activity. We have a dead ahead speed of about three knots and we can feel comfortable in working in a two knot current, that's a pretty substantial movement of water. In terms of being in dirty water or low visibility, if you are currently using some kind of camera to capture images in that setting, I assure you that a Blue eye camera is as well suited if not better suited to gaining underwater images than the one you're currently using.

If it's zero visibility, we have plenty of sonic options, sonar options that can help you move around in zero visibility. In terms of running the ROV into something, we've got that covered too. The lens of the camera is covered by a dome, that dome is surrounded by some impact plastic. So unless you manage to run something the size of this pen directly into that glass, then there's no problem. Feel free to run this thing into flat walls, boat hulls, whatever. The plastic that's there is there for hydrodynamics, it doesn't have anything to do with the functionality of the ROV itself. So, what I'm saying is, if you have a current method of collecting those images, a Blue eye can help you do that definitely safer, probably quicker and we hope more cost effectively.

Peter Bowman:

All right, thank you so much James for that information and thank you for assisting with that question there. To all of our participants, a vast majority of you have stuck with us from the beginning to the end, I can't tell you enough how much we appreciate your time. I know an hour out of everybody's day when we don't have enough hours in the day is extremely valuable and you've spent that time with us. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please have a wonderful rest of your day everybody, again thank you to the Blue eye team, thank you Maria for joining us and interacting with all of the folks on the chat, we sincerely appreciate it, none of this would be possible without you and we hope to see you again next week.

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  • Sep 12, 2022 10:24:34 AM

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