Kraken Robotics Inc. announces that its German subsidiary, Kraken Robotik GmbH, has secured over $900,000 in contracts for two development initiatives for evaluation of SeaVision® sensors and AI control software for autonomous underwater vehicles.

The two projects are called ARIM and RoboVaaS and are collaborative research activities funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the MarTERA Horizon 2020 initiative of the European Commission. Both projects will use Kraken’s innovative SeaVision® sensor for monitoring and inspection services and autonomous vehicle control. SeaVision® is the world’s first full-color 3D underwater laser scanner, with unprecedented scan speed and pixel density. The real-time aspects of the sensor make it ideally suited as an enabling technology for autonomous underwater operations. The contracts start in June 2018 and continue over a period of 36 months, with Kraken receiving approximately two-thirds of the funding over the next 18 months.

In the ARIM (Autonomous Robotic sea-floor Infrastructure for bentho-pelagic Monitoring) project, Kraken will use the SeaVision® system to guide and control an autonomous mobile seafloor crawler system. The crawler technology used in the project is based on the Jacobs University Wally crawler, which has already been extensively used as a subsea resident system at the Ocean Network Canada cabled observatory. Together with Geomar (Germany), iSeaMC (Germany), METAS (Norway), the Marine Research Institute (Norway), ICM-CSIC (Spain) and Deusto Sistemas (Spain), Kraken will be applying the SeaVision® system for navigation, autonomous obstacle avoidance and automatic identification of species in a benthic habitat environmental monitoring application. These monitoring activities will provide important spatial-temporal data for the scientific evaluation of marine ecosystems and will furthermore provide the basis to meet the regulations for all industrial subsea activities with potential environmental impact, such as offshore oil and gas, ocean renewables and deep-sea mining.

Subsea digitalisation and digital services for shipping are at the core of the RoboVaaS (Robotic Vessels as a Service) project. RoboVaaS will further the integration of autonomous systems, sensors, vessel and shore services into a digital service platform aimed at improving the efficiency of ports and shipping vessels. Kraken will perform a vertical integration of the SeaVision® system in a ship hull inspection services platform developed by Fraunhofer CML (Germany). Additional partners are the Hamburg Port Authority (Germany), TU Hamburg – Harburg (Germany), Sonarsim ltd. (Ireland), University of Limerick (Ireland) and University of Padova (Italy). Improving the efficiency of ports through automation provides a vital competitive edge and is directly in line with the product strategy of Kraken.

Dr. Jakob Schwender, Managing Director of Kraken Robotik GmbH said, “We are delighted to be awarded these two contracts. Aligning advanced remote sensing capabilities – such as those provided by our SeaVision® system – with underwater robotics and artificial intelligence will help mitigate environmental impact on the seafloor and improve safety at sea.”

About SeaVision®

SeaVision® is the world’s first RGB underwater laser imaging system that offers the resolution, range and scan rate to deliver dense full colour 3D point cloud images of subsea infrastructure with millimetre accuracy in real time. The initial system is designed for deployment on underwater robotic platforms such as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs).

Equipped with a high-resolution camera and laser, the system allows operators to reconstruct objects on the seabed in such a way that detailed models can be subsequently produced for 3D visualization. Its 3D imaging capabilities enable the generation of geo-registered “as-built” models of structures on the seabed or in the water column, survey of subsea infrastructure and comparison against baseline models and detection of structural defects or other out-of-spec conditions that exceed threshold values.

The ability to generate accurate 3D reconstruction of underwater infrastructure is an important requirement for commercial, military and ocean research applications. While sonar is the technology of choice for covering large areas, 3D laser systems such as Kraken’s SeaVision® provide significantly higher resolution and accuracy at inspection ranges of under 10 meters.

SeaVision® uses a full color laser scanning process that is repeated hundreds of times per second to generate coordinate values of millions of points on a reflected surface. The coordinates and intensity associated with each reflection of the laser are processed in real time to generate an ultra high-resolution point cloud. SeaVision® produces over 300,000 colored points per second and can reconstruct a 3D object in real-time with typical spatial accuracy of less than 2 millimeters. These datasets can be used to create highly detailed models for 3D visualization, asset management, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

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