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ROVs: Things To Come

July 20, 2010

ROVs History and Future – Part 3

This post in the series gives readers young and old a couple of places to go to learn more about ROV engineering and operations.

Throughout the 1980s I gave a number of presentations and tutorials on robots and intelligent machines in space, combat and undersea applications. Having spent a decade of working with robotics in a structured manufacturing environment it was fun to explore their use in the wild blue yonder.

I was invited by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to present a tutorial on “Application of Intelligent Machines in Undersea Applications” at the 1987  Marine Technology Society conference in San Diego. I did a couple of  similar presentations for MTS in later years. The MTS is an excellent place to learn about what’s going on in marine technology and ROV applications.

The Marine Technology Society was incorporated in June 1963 to give members of academia, government and industry a common forum for the exchange of information and ideas. Their guiding purpose is: “To promote awareness, understanding, advancement and application of marine technology.”

MTS ROV Committee Mission Statement

  • Disseminate ROV related marine science and technical knowledge
  • Promote and support education for marine scientists, engineers and technicians who would be manufacturers, operators or end users of ROV technology
  • Advance the development of ROV related tools and procedures required to explore, study and further the responsible and sustainable use of the oceans
  • Provide services that create a broader understanding of the relevance of the those marine sciences associated with ROV systems and operations to other technologies, arts and human affairs.” Visit the MTS ROV Committee site…

The MTS ROV Committee also sponsors educational activities such as the International Student ROV Competition.

The International ROV Competition is organized by the MATE Center and Marine Technology Society’s (MTS) ROV Committee.  The event is sponsored by marine industry and working professionals, research institutions, government agencies, and professional societies.

MATE International ROV Competition Teaches Teamwork

Caroline Brown, PR person for the MATE Center sent Innovational Musings the following report on the June 22-24, 2010 competition.

The Marine Advanced Technology (MATE) Center, organizes the International Student ROV Competition. This year we had our 9th annual competition in Hawaii –the theme is underwater volcanoes. About sixty teams from all over the world participated (including 2 from Oregon: Portland State University and Linn Benton Community College of Albany).  Watch this short video to get an idea of what it’s all about:

Our ROV competition helps give students the technology, piloting and teamwork skills to design, build and operate an ROV in a “real-world” setting.

Skilled ROV engineers and operators are needed in all marine technology industries, not just the oil and gas industry. It’s not easy to find workers who both understand the science and technology needed to design, build and pilot and ROV,  and are willing to live at sea, often for weeks at a time.

The MATE ROV competition helps students develop the skills they need and exposes them to these kinds of marine technology careers. And if they decide working on ROVs isn’t right for them, they’ve still developed science, technology, engineering, math and teamwork skills that will be invaluable in any field.

In the Explorer (advanced level) class the 1st place winner was Institute for Marine Technology Problems of Vladivostok, Russia; 2nd place went to Long Beach City College of Long Beach, Calif.; and 3rd place went to the Marine Institute and Faculty of Engineering of Memorial University of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. In the Ranger class (intermediate level), 1st place was won by First Flight High School of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina; 2nd place went to Clarenville High School of Clarenville, Newfoundland, Canada; and 3rd place was won by Aptos High School of Aptos, Calif.

As for the two teams that represented Oregon–Linn-Benton Community College of Albany and Portland State University– both competed in the Explorer class. Portland State was 19th and  Linn-Benton was 20th out of 27 teams in the Explorer class. Linn-Benton was the 1st place winner of poster presentation.  The Ranger team of SeaTech 4-H Club of Skagit Valley (Mt. Vernon, WA) came in 19 (out of 34 Ranger class teams).

Future ROV Pilots and Engineers

SeaTech 4-H Club of Skagit Valley and their vehicle. Photo credit: Steve Van Meter/VideoRay

First Flight High School. Photo credit: Steve Van Meter/VideoRay

The team that won 1st place in the Ranger class competition, First Flight High School, stands with their ROV. Their poster presentation is in the background. This team also won 1st place for their engineering presentation.

If you’re interested in the final scores or standings for these or any other teams, you can find them here

Thanks for the report Caroline!

More photos and other ROV resource links…

One of the things I like to do with Innovational Musings is to juxtapose technology of the past with the leading tech stories of the day. The history of science and technology helps us understand the scope, importance and direction that technology is driving civilization. There’s little doubt the rate of technological change is often mind-boggling. A sense of history can provide us with  perspective and help ground us during these dizzying days.

When writing about the advances in in-wheel motors in the latest EVs it’s facinating to learn about Ferdinand Porsche’s 1899 electric car that first introduce the technology. I also like to weave in stories about entrepreneurs and innovators of the past along with today’s tech heroes.

For example in part 1 of this series on ROVs, I talked about Howard Hughes, always a great source of amazing tales, and Robert Heinlein’s teleoperated Waldos. I also mentioned that both Hughes and Tesla’s (another great name from the past) Elon Musk were used as archetypes for the Iron Man movies. For me it’s fun to connect the temporal dots. For example in doing research on Heinlein I found this recent story that our pal Elon has been working with the Heinlein Prize Trust in awarding pioneering space research.

Elon’s SpaceX Teams with Heinlein’s Prize Trust

SpaceX Partners with Heilein Prize

June 4, 2010. A partner of The Heinlein Prize Trust on events such as the Microgravity Research Competition, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched and orbited the Falcon 9 spacecraft.The Heinlein Prize Trust offers its congratulations on this achievement. Said SpaceX of the accomplishment, “This has been a great day for SpaceX and a promising step forward for the US space program, as we make progress towards expanding the human presence in space.”

All’s Wells That Ends Welles

More about exploring Seas and Space in Future Things To Come…

But one more temporal dot to connect before we go. Did you know that H.G. Wells wrote the script for the 1936 film “Things To Come?” And that in 1939 H.G. Wells met with Orson Welles in San Antonio where they discussed Welles’ infamous radio treatment of Wells’ “The War of the Worlds.”

You can listen to them discuss this story, “Citizen Kane” and other topics  in this radio program…

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