New agreement between J2 Subsea and Seattle’s BluHaptics will see haptic controls and modelling support the use of ROV tools
For all the advantages that ROVs can offer subsea operations, actually learning to manoeuvre them is a tricky business. The disconnection – and occasionally grainy communication – between a topside operating console and the vehicle itself can certainly make piloting a challenge. To address this, haptic and augmented technologies can provide additional feedback, and bring pilots closer to the action.
BluHaptics is a Seattle-based software company developing new technology to aid augmented robotics. In June the company formed a partnership with subsea tooling and services supplier J2 Subsea, which will see its augmentation software sold alongside J2’s existing product and service portfolio, with a view to helping make the operation of underwater manipulator arms safer and more effective.
Using haptic guidance control, machine learning and data fusion, the company aims to simplify robotic operation in real time. BluHaptics has integrated a number of technologies, including real-time modelling, operator assistance, and force feedback, into one platform for semi-automatic robotic control. This features a virtual interface and more user-friendly controls, making it significantly easier for operators to control remote robots more precisely when subsea.
Having typically focused on the rental, service and repair of subsea tooling hardware, J2 Subsea is incorporating BluHaptics software into its suite of offerings to provide all its customers with a greater level of control and precision. “We are looking forward to offering BluHaptics’ software. This is a leap forward in robotic control for an ROV industry standard tool,” said J2 Subsea director John Walker. “The software will enable increased precision, reducing the instances and intensity of damage to ROV manipulator arms during subsea operations.”
Several offshore trials of the system are now currently under way, and a full release of BluHaptics’ new application for underwater manipulator arms is scheduled for later this year.
“Augmented robotics marries the strengths of humans and robots to achieve more together than what each could do individually,” said BluHaptics CEO Don Pickering in a statement. “As companies begin to enjoy better control, improved safety, lower costs and more capabilities, this technology will quickly become an industry standard.” “Our partnership with J2 Subsea is a strategic move that allows us to continue focusing on the development of future products with applications on land and in space, while at the same time positioning our subsea product for rapid growth,” said Luke Wissman, vice president of business development and special programmes for BluHaptics.