Page 54: of Marine Technology Magazine (March 2013)

Instrumentation: Measurement, Processing & Analysis

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Innovator We were working with Seaway Diving when Draeger had started building saturation diving systems and of course re- breathers, including semi-closed and closed circuit systems rebreathers. We did some testing with those and some evalua- tions on the diving systems they were building. That company grew, and we sold lots of diving systems. It grew fast over a Þ ve-year period. We had 130 employees, but we were underfunded. Most of the units we were shipping from San Diego were going to the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. There was a lot of freight involved, which made it very expensive. So once the technology caught up and oth- er companies could build similar equipment, it made it very competitive. Also, the way we wanted things done and how we thought they should be done was not really what the indus- try was about. It was do the minimum to get the job done. We were quite a ways away from that ideology, so we decided to shut it down. We shut it down and disbanded. You were really at the forefront of underwater technology on several levels. I then started a company called Gas Services Off- shore Limited. It was to develop a system for gas recovery. I developed a system called the Gas Miser, which was a deep diving gas reclaim system. Chris DeLucchi and I also devel- oped the Sat Hat, which was a versatile dive helmet. It had a demand regulator and a push-pull regulator with mixed-gas reclaim capability. It could also be used with open circuit, free ß ow mode or with a semi closed-circuit rebreather. What were some projects in the Þ eld that used the systems? We participated in raising Þ ve tons of Russian gold. That got things started with that company. That company went on to become the Pressure Products Group, and later DiveEx was one of the companies that we acquired. It still exists today. I then sold the company and was approached by an offshore-diving supervisor. He had built this concept of an ROV and I ended up funding that. I got heavily involved. The company was called Hydrovision. Hydrovision produced the Hyball. Were those the origins of your involvement with ROV technology? Yes. We spent a bunch of money and developed this vehicle. There is a little over 400 Hyballs out in the Þ eld. It was the Þ rst production built ROV. The Hyball 225 was known in the Þ eld as the eyeball. It was an incredible learning experi- ence. At that time I sold the balance of the companies known as Pressure Products Group. I then became semi-retired in Se-attle but continued to dabble in hyperbaricoxygen and ROVs. I wanted to develop a small ROV. It was really what we want- ed to do from the Þ rst concept with the Hyball. But now the cameras had shrunk quite a bit; it was much easier to shrink this thing down. We worked with a company in Vancouver that built a small ROV called the Scallop. They were inter- ested in selling the IP on this and another system. I looked at it and got one, but you couldnÕt really get it across the pool. I used this as a proof of concept for a small vehicle and went off of my boat with a drawing board. We built a prototype of the LBV in my shop in Washington. We did some initial testing and built some thrusters that had certain criteria that we had to meet, such as a 3-knot current minimum. We determined how much thrust we needed to have. We built thrusters that would produce enough to propel it at 3-knots. It was in the early days of solid modeling and the cost to do the solid modeling was quite expensive. Did this early investigation into smaller ROV technology lead to the inception of SeaBotix? My son, Jesse Rodocker, was down in Austin when he called me and said, ÒItÕs time to get the Little Benthic Ve- hicle off the shelf. The market is ready.Ó I said, ÒIf you will help me, letÕs go for it.Ó So we did. In 1999 we put together the business plan and started developing the framework for what is now SeaBotix Inc. What are some of the concepts behind the Sea-Botix LBV and vLBV ROV lines? We progressed the concept and design and really did a lot of testing and trials to make sure it was capable. The problem with the Scallop was it wasnÕt able to get across the pool because the thrusters were too far apart. You have to re- member, when youÕre talking about the smaller robots there is also an optimum at the size endpoint. The smaller systems or the micro ROVs just cannot carry the payload and deliver the payload with maneuverability. You can pile a whole bunch of stuff on it, and it struggles to get there. You can pull an 18-wheeler with a Volkswagen, but you donÕt go very far or very fast. Today, our systems are being used all over the world in all sorts of applications. We can carry the payload our end users need and maintain maneuverability. In one application, for example, some of the early adopters were able to take the vehicles and do inspection work. The Þ rst tunnel inspection was more than 1,100 meters inside a pipeline. We have since gone past two kilometers. There have been many ÒÞ rstsÓ achieved with our vehicles. We dealt with all of those early challenges, and we also dealt with the price point. By pushing the price down and taking the risk, we were able to increase the volume substantially. We are now just about to go over 1,000 units sold. So looking toward the future for SeaBotix ? We will continue to do what we do best: push the envelope and continue to deliver industry-leading technology. March 2013 54 MTRMTR #2 (50-65).indd 54MTR #2 (50-65).indd 543/6/2013 1:44:24 PM3/6/2013 1:44:24 PM

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