Fugro General Robotics Limited (FGRL), the leading supplier of subsea simulators, has delivered the first order for its next generation DeepTouch pilot training simulator to sister company Fugro-Rovtech. Fugro-Rovtech plans to use DeepTouch for the rapid evaluation of subsea intervention engineering designs as well as for pilot training.
Fugro-Rovtech bought DeepTouch due to its ease of use, specifically because a subsea engineer can readily customise it for a particular task whereas competitive systems require a programmer to make the changes. The company also liked the fact that FGRL writes all its own software and does not rely on third-party applications it doesn't control.
"Fugro-Rovtech have a skilled engineering department and they will use DeepTouch not only for pilot training, but for engineering allowing them to do early trials of difficult engineering situations, from a conceptual point right through to having a pilot try it out in difficult sea conditions," said Dr Jason Tisdall, Managing Director of Fugro GRL. "The goal here is the really rapid evolution of new solutions."
DeepTouch brings fully force-modelled physics simulation to subsea and ROV simulators so that any object in the world model both feels and behaves like the real thing. For the first time, DeepTouch brings "touch and feel" interactive simulation tools that give the simulator pilot the same graduated tactile response as if he were actually using a tool, like a manipulator, to move or adjust a subsea component in the field.
DeepTouch allows an engineer to drag and drop objects from the extensive libraries to build subsea worlds containing items such as vessels, pipes, cables and ROVs. Importantly, DeepTouch can also model ROV electrical and hydraulic circuits in great detail making it quick and easy to change the vehicle or tooling design prior to manufacture.
Until now, Fugro-Rovtech's Engineering and Tooling department has relied on building prototypes, SITs, small scale wet tests, and the like for design verification. It now plans to conduct preliminary testing in the simulator during the design phase with the goal to greatly reduce overall lead times.
"We are talking about bespoke equipment we make for our clients such as tooling, control systems and other kit for the ROV," said Nick Alvarado, Subsea Engineer, Fugro-Rovtech. "When clients encounter a problem subsea we occasionally have to design a set of tools specific to that job and sometimes the ideas and mechanisms have never been used before subsea, so being able to test before we actually start manufacturing is of great value."
For training purposes, the underlying circuits are fully modelled which gives supervisors an overview allowing them to "break" individual circuits or components to test how much pilots understand their equipment. The supervisor can do this in real-time, or develop a problem scenario for trainees to resolve. Trainees can repeat a scenario until they get it right. The whole dataset and 3D world is recorded and can be returned to at any point for review.
Fugro-Rovtech already has three FGRL ROVolution simulators worldwide and is likely to upgrade these systems, because DeepTouch offers much more in terms of manipulators, tether and additional equipment simulation, as well as the improved interface. Experienced pilots will be encouraged to rehearse missions on the simulator to become more familiar with all subsea equipment, layout, tasks and procedures.
"We choose FGRL because of capabilities and future development, we saw where FGRL was heading and that was more in tune with our needs as opposed to competitor offerings. It was a decision made long before Fugro bought GRL and was independent of it," said Nick Alvarado.
Fugro GRL and Fugro-Rovtech are members of the Fugro group of companies.