RE2, VideoRay robot hits underwater depth milestone

M2NS combines VideoRay’s Defender ROV and RE2’s Sapien Sea Class robotic arms. | Source: RE2 Robotics

RE2 Robotics‘ Maritime Mine Neutralization System (M2NS) was able to dive more than one kilometer deep during an open-water demonstration for the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR). 

“These tests allowed us to demonstrate the continuing success of the M2NS project for the U.S. Navy,” Jack Reinhart, vice president of project management, RE2 Robotics, said. “The progress we made during these deep dives shows that we could successfully complete an underwater supervised autonomous mission at depths of more than 1,000 meters without any damage to the system. The M2NS system succeeded where no other system of this class has before.”

During the test, M2NS was able to complete four dives over a kilometer deep. M2NS performed the tests in the Pacific Ocean with help from the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific in Point Loma, California. 

M2NS is a mine neutralization system that combines technology from RE2 and VideoRay. It’s base is VideoRay’s inspection-class Defender remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Mounted onto the ROV the RE2 Sapien Sea Class. M2NS also uses RE2 Detect and RE2 Intellect to see the world around it and act autonomously. 

RE2’s Sapien Sea Class is a dual-armed system meant to be more human-like than traditional industrial and collaborative arms. This version of the Sapien series is designed specifically for deep ocean use. 

“We have proven the ability to deploy the Defender with a large payload to depths of 3,500 feet (1,000+ meters) from a small deck footprint,” Marcus Kolb, chief technology officer at VideoRay, said. “We performed complex, autonomous manipulation tasks with the RE2 system while station-keeping a few feet off the bottom. We are excited about the direction of this program and how it will help accelerate commercial solutions.”

VideoRay is the world’s leading manufacturer of underwater, portable and inspection-class ROVs. Its Defender ROV’s position and orientation can be controlled precisely, and its seven thrusters allow it to move in any direction. Defender is also capable of handling heavier payloads than VideoRay’s other robots. 

RE2 is a Carnegie Mellon spinout founded in 2001. In February 2022, RE2 announced a strategic partnership with PickNik where RE2 will use PickNik’s Movelt Studio software to develop its autonomous robotic systems. The Movelt Studio will help speed up the integration of the Sapien Sea Class robotic arm for new applications. 

Moving forward, RE2 and VideoRay are planning more demonstrations for ONR, including testing autonomous capabilities using a tetherless ROV at extended depths. For these tests, OceanComm will provide wireless acoustic modems. 

RE2 won an RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award in 2021 for its Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels (O-AMPP) robotic system that can autonomously deliver and install photovoltaic (PV) modules.

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