The 360° Freedom Concept
Founding members of the Ocean Modules management team pioneered the 360° Freedom concept for underwater vehicles 30 years ago. This concept lead to internationally renowned products such as the Sea-Owl, Sea-Eagle and Double Eagle vehicles that made SAAB Underwater Systems a leading ROV manufacturer.
In the years since, the technology has been implemented all over the globe, from the Royal Australian Navy's Huon Class Mine Hunters to DeepOcean Norway's brand-new fleet of Ocean Modules V8 range vehicles.
Traditional ROV design places the buoyancy material at the top of the vehicle and ballast at the bottom, in order to create a stable platform. This is an easy solution, but leads to a number of issues in real-world operational scenarios, where environmental forces, tether drag and limited maneuverability contribute to making operation difficult or even impossible under common conditions.
The Ocean Modules V8 range of vehicles moves the center of gravity and center of buoyancy to the middle of the vehicle. Stability is created artificially, using eight vectored thrusters, an advanced control system and feedback from precise sensors.
This means that the vehicle can hold any position with unlimited pitch and roll indefinitely. Changes in depth, heading, pitch and roll due to external forces such as tether drag, swell, current or payload are automatically corrected.
The V8 Sii has inspected pipes up to 1800 meters in length in the water system underneath Berlin, and performed inspections up to 2400 meters into nuclear power plant cooling water tunnels, without using any type of special tether management device.
No other inspection class remotely-operated vehicle has the ability to rotate 360° around any axis. The V8 range of vehicles from Ocean Modules can be operated at any angle, and in any direction, allowing it to operate in tricky spaces, in a manner much more natural to the operator. This allows an operator to conduct sonar and video inspections following the profile of sea floor, ship hull or subsea structure.
The choice of two operating modes, Horizon Relative and Body Relative, makes piloting even more intuitive. In the first, all movement is relative the surface, ideal for following surfaces such as the sea floor, a dam wall or a ship hull, regardless of the orientation of the vehicle. In the second, all movement is relative to the body of the vehicle, ideal for tracking a moving object with the camera, or using mounted tools, such as a manipulator.
Since the sonar, cameras, lights and mounted tools, such as a manipulator or sampler, are always aligned, there is no need for separate pan and tilt controls, reducing the cognitive stress on the operator, and thereby the risk of losing sight of the object being tracked.
Ease of Use
Joystick control does not translate directly to thruster movement, but is instead interpreted by the control system, for the most maneuverable and precise operation possible.
Because cameras, sonars and tools are lined up and controlled by maneuvering the entire vehicle, there is no need to worry about separate pan and tilt for the various sensors and manipulators.
All equipment and software delivered by Ocean Modules build on the same concept of modularity. This means that an investment in an entry level system, such as the V4 XT, is not wasted when more power, range or capabilities are required. Upgrade to a V8 Sii consists of simply purchasing four more thrusters, one more power module, a larger frame and larger buoyancy blocks. The thrusters, electronics and power modules and the surface and control units are all identical.
Ease of Maintenance
Each of the modules in a Ocean Modules system are connected with wetmateable connectors. Replacing thrusters, electronics modules, power modules or sensors does not require exposing circuit boards, and can be done in virtually any environment. Maintenance can even be performed submerged, if necessary! The only required tool is a set of common screwdrivers.
Ocean Modules is so confident that systems are reliable, that an industry-unique service system is offered to customers that buy one set of spares. For a very low annual fee, Ocean Modules will immediately replace failed modules with a new set.
Documentation and Reporting
The patented SPOT.ON information management and reporting software ties all collected data, such as video, sonar, sample data, etc to geographical position. A printed report can be generated automatically within minutes of completing a mission, a job that previously required hours and hours of manual crosschecking of charts, video time codes, voice memos and notes.
From the internal data structures of the SPOT.ON mission data collection, to the EtherLink communication standard between the ROV and surface units to the XML-based results generated by the various software packages provided for reporting, Ocean Modules takes every possible measure to ensure compatibility with industry-standard hardware interfaces, software interfaces, positioning systems, charting systems and custom-built video analysis, tooling or sampling systems.
With a network of sales, service and support offices around the world, chances are local help is not far away, regardless of location.
Total Cost of Ownership
Many, many references are available to survey companies, dive operators, government agencies and and military customers who have all determined that products from Ocean Modules are not only the best, but also the cheapest, providing the best value for investment over the lifetime of the system.