A Collaborative Model for Net-Zero Ocean Tech Development

A Collaborative Model for Net-Zero Ocean Tech Development
The Launch Digital Twin with Simulated SeaRobotics ASV and Copsys Intelligent Digital Skin (CIDS) Corrosion Hot Spot Detection and Location Demonstration. (Image credit: GRi Simulations)

In the ever-expanding horizons of ocean technology, and in an increasingly connected world, innovative approaches to collaboration are necessary for the achievement of the most ambitious goals.

For GRi Simulations Inc., collaboration is in our blood and has always been the key to our progress. GRi doesn’t build platforms, facilities, or sensors, instead GRi simulates, integrates, and visualizes the technologies of others in digital landscapes, partnering to promote safer and more efficient systems and operations. This approach is a key element of GRi’s net zero emissions objectives and to how we approach research and development.


GRi is collaborating on initiatives to develop and augment net zero technologies through simulation and visualization. This approach creates safer, more efficient, low carbon modes of testing and verification of innovations. A large portion of net zero innovations involve crewless energy production, utilizing remote monitoring and operations with resident, autonomous and maintenance vehicles in a physics and data-driven virtual sandbox. Simulation and visualization technology has a vital role to play in the conception and development of these vehicles. And, in most cases, when a system is developed, the simulator used to create and validate a technology maintains residual value as an operations planning and training tool.

Aligning with the editorial focus of this issue, here we discuss two elements of GRi’s net zero collaborative initiatives: utilizing virtual subsea field architectures for innovation in subsea resident vehicles, and new modes of environmental preparedness and response.


GRi provides generic testbeds for offshore energy, aquaculture, and harbors, as well as data rich models of real-world production facilities. Between these generic and world models are digital twins of real-world testbeds being created of The Launch, Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Ocean Innovation Centre located in Holyrood Bay, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) AURLab (Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory).

Virtual testbed environments that replicate physical marine testbed installations can provide validation of simulator fidelity to prototype systems using a low-emission, low-risk, and low-cost approach for testing marine hardware systems.

Site-representative content supports the transition from digital prototyping of subsea technologies to physical prototyping and testing in the target operating environment.

Memorial University’s Marine Institute officially opened The Launch, located in Holyrood Newfoundland and Labrador, in May 2023, as a state-of-the-art marine living laboratory for training and testing of new technologies in a robust but safe marine environment. GRi is collaborating with The Launch and many of their key partners to create a virtual testbed to correspond to their real-world environment. It is the site of a diverse collaborative effort by econext called the “Community Workforce Development in Holyrood through Blue/Green Economy Project.” The initiative marries an impressive real-time demonstration and deployment program of ocean and clean tech—including environmental sensing, characterization, and monitoring, remote and autonomous systems—and innovative remote digital presence tools for asset integrity assurance, such as Copsys Technologies’ paint-based Intelligent Digital Skin (CIDS). The digital twin solution GRi has developed using iDEA-DT uses an accurate 3D model of the prototype Copsys system and is able to visually indicate the location of damage detected by the CIDS smart coating. The IoT sensors are connected to the twin software remotely and sending continuous real-time data from its sensors.

NTNU’s AURLab test site has been in operation since 2011 and promotes the application and use of underwater robotics in engineering and research. GRi is delivering a digital twin of the AURLab test site, and simulators for a range of existing robotic assets to support further development and testing of academic research and commercial innovations.

Both The Launch and NTNU have a formal partnership in place to advance the operations of autonomous technology. GRi’s digital twins of both facilities are key foundational pieces of this important work.


One of GRi’s priorities is advancing the field of autonomous, hybrid or remotely operated unmanned seabed resident vehicles to help improve system capabilities and operating limits beyond inspection to intervention, maintenance, and repair operations. GRi provides high fidelity real-time sensor and environmental data inputs suitable for use with vehicle control systems to support design and validation.

One seabed resident system featured in the development and testing is the SAAB Sabertooth, a commercial vehicle that for many years has been among the leaders in subsea autonomous operations. The Sabertooth is a powerful but lightweight hybrid inspection, maintenance, and repair (IMR) platform. The vehicle has been implemented for testing and optimization in the VROV simulator for many applications over the years.

Another seabed resident technology is the ARV-I. A relatively new development by Transmark SubSea Norway and Boxfish Robotics (New Zealand), this self-contained vehicle incorporates its own dedicated docking platform also offering the flexibility of complete autonomous operation or manual control.


Another use case for advanced simulation and collaboration concerns new modes of environmental preparedness and training in spill response through the leadership of Oil Spill

Response Limited (OSRL). OSRL is an industry-funded cooperative established to respond to oil spill events globally, providing preparedness, response, and complex intervention services requiring communication and interactivity among teams operating a variety of equipment.

On the heels of a successful February 2023 response/capping exercise for Occidental Petroleum and USCG, GRi is partnering with industry to broaden the depth and enhance the experience of capping exercises going forward. Starting in September 2023, GRi will enhance OSRL's exercise simulation support by updating current models and expanding simulation capabilities to accommodate new additions to the global response kits.

This enhancement aims to boost the expertise and readiness of essential incident personnel in this critical element of the offshore petroleum industry. Implemented in iDEA-DT these system simulations will be available for the testing, verifying, and training responses in digital twins of offshore assets. With respect to Source Control Preparedness training, the ROV simulator immerses attendees with realistic looking graphics and integrated operational documents into the subsea simulator world for an industry best practice sense of realism during the exercise.

For more information, visit: www.grisim.com.

This story was originally featured in ON&T Magazine's September 2023 issue. Click here to read more.


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