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Finding the Right Balance Between Tradition & Innovation in Subsea R&D

17th Jul 2023

For subsea veterans, achieving the ideal mix of convention and modernisation in the sphere of R&D is indeed an art. Pre-2000, sophisticated sonar systems, telecommunications as well as submersible cameras and craft set a formidable benchmark. Nonetheless, the marketplace has taken noteworthy strides and continues to evolve. At Knight Optical, we are a recognised brand within the forward-thinking community. Here, we discover the art of counterbalancing time-honoured customs with progressive strategies and the advantages of staying abreast of cutting-edge growth.

An offshore oil rig

Since 1991, we’ve worked alongside leading names on progressions, alterations, and milestones in the modern-day world of R&D. Although we diligently follow current developments in order to match customer demand, we also recognise the influence of traditional methodologies. Our approach is rooted in adopting beneficial tech, while upholding the value of established practices. 

Prominent Physicist Stephen Hawking once remarked: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.” This sentiment rings especially true for the subsea domain, where the goal of learning is continuously maturing. Acknowledging there is an ever-expanding realm of unfamiliar territories to unearth and comprehend serves as the motivation to foster improvement, and it does involve welcoming status-quo-questioning, trailblazing achievements.

The Merger Beneath the Radar

A deep sea remotely-operated vehicleIronically, the field has already successfully combined tradition and innovation via the adaptation of vital tools employed in daily procedures. A notable illustration is the momentous enhancement of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). In the early 1990s, ROVs coexisted with human divers (for example, the late Dr Phil Nuytten, a renowned name in diving and Inventor of the Newtsuit). Recently, the vessels have experienced remarkable upgrades. By incorporating high-resolution imaging devices, improved manoeuvrability, state-of-the-art sensors, and automated features, they’ve reached unmatched levels of capability. These additions have resulted in a reduction of the reliance on humans and boosted efficiencies and effectiveness.

Optical cable used for data transmissionAnother instance is communication, which formerly relied on acoustic signals and hardwired connections. However, these methods have given way to the advent of optical fibres. This shift has ushered in a new era, offering enhanced bandwidth and extended transmission distances, thereby revolutionising data exchange.

These breakthroughs allow R&D departments to reach deeper depths and relay accurate data, enhancing overall proceedings and optimising productivity.

Sparking Change

Just as the transition from the 1990s brought significant revamps, the following few decades are positioned for other monumental leaps. Similar to the revolutionary impact of ROVs, up-and-coming innovations on the horizon are primed to reform the playing field. These leading-edge achievements, akin to many technologies, centre around computer vision, autonomy, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Future Trends

A submersible autonomous droneTiny drones that can stay under the water indefinitely [1] and real-time intelligent statistic collection systems delivering 4K videos with high-quality 3D dense point clouds at sub-millimetre accuracy [2] are both signs of where we’re heading.

Due to the challenging conditions of sub-aquatic environments, automation is becoming increasingly essential to eliminate the dangers associated with working in inaccessible and extreme underwater areas.

For example, Texas-headquartered Nauticus Robotics entered an agreement with Shell last year to advance the qualification phase for efficient acquisition of integrity data using their Aquanaut and Hydronaut robotic platforms. They are now developing the next-level bot, the Mark 2 (MK2), which the Founder believes will “fundamentally revolutionise how the industry operates3.” The MK2 is a fully electric, untethered, and autonomous robot controlled through acoustic communication networking, supported by AI-centric software.

Cultivating a Culture of Innovation

An offshore platformThe idea of embracing novel ideas needn’t be daunting. The sector has consistently shown astuteness and takes pride in its diligence to rigorous scrutinising, quality benchmarks, and demonstrated performance. Every move so far has been incremental yet instrumental in reshaping our operational landscape, granting us the opportunity to surpass targets.

A Balanced Synergy

Knight Optical stands as a trusted partner in pushing the boundaries of R&D. With over 30 years of experience collaborating with professionals, we’ve witnessed evolution and the true power of marrying convention and the latest advancements. Our loyalty to staying ahead of the curve ensures that our optic offerings are specifically formulated to exceed expectations and enable you to unlock new possibilities.

Finding the Right Balance Between Tradition & Innovation in Subsea R&DNew tech is poised to reshape the arena, letting you explore uncharted territory and gather precise facts and figures like never before. Our optical solutions are at the front of these gains, empowering your research and development endeavours to spark change and expand operations.

Furthermore, in addition to our custom-made optics, quality-assured processes, and comprehensive metrology testing, we go the extra mile by providing you with a dependable and dedicated account manager. We understand the importance of tailoring our services to align with your specific work habits. Whether you require bulk or one-off quantities or prefer web-based or email purchase orders, our commitment lies in streamlining the supply chain experience, allowing you to concentrate on what truly matters.

By choosing us as your long-term supplier, you can rely on our expertise and dedication to quality, ushering in a new era of subsea exploration.