RE2 developing controls to improve ROV manipulation skills

RE2 Sapien Sea Class arms mounted on the VideoRay Defender ROV. | Credit: RE2 Robotics

Pittsburgh-based RE2 Robotics received an unspecified amount of Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from the U.S. Navy. RE2, a 2021 RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award winner, will be developing “coupled control” for remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and robotic manipulators through a single control system.

The project, called “Coupled Locomotion And Manipulation System (CLAMS),” will combine the robotic arms’ control system and the ROV control system into one unit. RE2 said this will improve coordination of the underwater manipulator and the ROV’s movements.

CLAMS will enable topside operators to control a system’s robotic arms and ROV simultaneously using one control station. This is made possible by combining the RE2’s new Coupled Remote Link Software (CTRLS) and the System Unification Model (SUM) to enable interoperability between ROV and robotic arms. CTRLS allows the topside ROV operator to send mission goals to the SUM module located on the vehicle.

“Currently, robotic arms and ROVs are controlled with separate control systems. CLAMS will enable both the robotic arms and the mobile platform to be operated with a single control unit,” said Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO, RE2 Robotics. “Integrating these platforms will enable users to increase efficiency by eliminating the need for an operator to monitor two separate control stations while completing a mission.”

In addition to defense applications, RE2 said CLAMS will benefit industries that use underwater manipulation systems to conduct routine inspection and maintenance tasks, such as the oil and gas and renewable energy industries.

“The goal of CLAMS is to improve control of our RE2 Sapien Sea Class arms mounted on the VideoRay Defender ROV by addressing the two components as a unified system,” stated David Lee, director of product management at RE2. “This will allow topside operators to have more control over semi-autonomous operations while the integrated system is working underwater.”

This is the second ROV-related contract RE2 has won in a matter of months. In September 2021, it won a $9.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy to create an ROV to autonomously neutralize underwater mines. The system will use the RE2 Sapien Sea Class system to precisely place and attach neutralization devices to underwater mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs).

RE2 Robotics won an RBR50 Award for the development of a robotic solution for autonomous deployment of solar fields. The Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels (O-AMPP) robotic system is capable of both autonomously delivering and installing photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Pedersen recently joined The Robot Report Podcast to discuss the evolution of the company, which was founded in 2001. RE2 was focused nearly 100% on defense work in 2016, but now the defense sector accounts for less than one-third of its business. You can listen to that podcast below.


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