Forssea Robotics Reducing Subsea Costs with New Visual Technology

Paris-based Forssea Robotics is a subsea robotics and research and development (R&D) startup company, set up in 2016 to reduce operating costs in the ROV and subsea markets. Forssea is designing, building and qualifying a new autonomous ROV called ATOLL along with other innovative products which aim to transform the subsea industry. OGV caught up with them at the ENGenious event in Aberdeen, where they were exhibiting, to find out more.

What are the benefits of the ATOLL ROV ?

The Atoll ROV is a light underwater vehicle launched from a small vessel (PSV size) and able to lead an umbilical down to a subsea target. Once connected with the subsea infrastructure, it can transfer power/data or lift objects back to surface. The initial use-case we identified was resident ROVs - that are now becoming a reality – which require battery charging and high-speed communication link with surface. Discussing more and more with potential end-users, we ended up with developing a “swiss knife” docking interface with several tools and options. Right now, we are working in close collaboration with 2 majors to use the Atoll system to deploy LBL frames, or transfer fluid from a PSV down to a subsea production system. Atoll design is adaptable to any use-case and will become a technological enabler for certain type of low-cost subsea operation. Because vision-based technology is critical to the autonomous docking of ATOLL, Forssea has developed a range of vision-based products, ranging from low-cost Ethernet cameras, adapted to augmented reality applications, to an enhanced vision product called ‘Polar X’, which improves the visibility factor and target identification in turbid underwater conditions by a factor of three.

Can you tell us about your V-Loc product?

V-LOC is the adaptation of the embedded Atoll visual positioning technology into a stand-alone product. It has been designed for quick and operational use. One operator sticks the marker on the structure and the camera then computes the 6-degree coordinates in real-time on the user screen. It was just a concept a few months ago, but since we received an enormous interest from offshore operators, we have strongly improved the system. The commercial version will use certified resident markers and a new calibrated camera with embedded computing power and much better optical accuracy. V-Loc reduces cost of operation by lowering the needs for expensive gyrocompass or acoustic transponders. It is much faster to deploy, very reliable and requires less personal. Forssea is currently qualifying the accuracy of the system and shall soon announce several partnerships to pursue the R&D effort.

How are you using visual technology with the Polar X?

Polar’X has been developed in collaboration with a French computer vision lab. The combined use of light polarisation and real-time image treatment enables to decrease the scattering effect in turbid underwater medium. We had very promising results last year, and the new prototype will be tested starting September. It is already for sale in the context of pilot projects. We plan to deploy Polar’X units onto ROV, AUV and trenchers, as it can strongly increase visibility for both pilots and image post-processing.

Can these products create cost savings for the industry?

Yes, our engineering team focuses on operational use-cases. Atoll focuses on vessel size reduction and performing autonomous applications deployable from a light vessel, whereas V-Loc focuses on vessel time optimisation by performing positioning tasks and docking applications more quickly and precisely through a 3D feedback from a computer embedded in the housing of the camera.

What are the future plans for Forssea robotics?

We just closed a new fund-raising. We will use the funds to qualify our systems with a couple of brilliant engineers that will join us soon. Once we qualify our systems, we plan to industrialise our products presented previously and bring them to the market at low-cost whilst maintaining their performance.

How did you find the ENGenious event?

As start-up company, we are always eager to listen to other companies; their needs and their expertise in the field of oil and gas, and ENGenious was really a big chance for Forssea Robotics, to meet our partners in Aberdeen and also set up new potential collaborations and clients. Looking forward for the next coming years ENGenious events and I hope it will achieve its main goal of bringing the industry to the next level of digital era.

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