The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) has launched production of an element engineering test machine based on a joint agreement with Nissan Motor Co. and Topy Industries concluded on December 1st, 2014.
Adopting the Nissan’s Around View Monitor (AVM), the machine will be developed with Topy Industries. It constitutes an essential technology for development of highly efficient subsea operations in the “Next-generation Technology for Ocean Resources Exploration (Zipangu in the Ocean Plan)” as part of the “Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP)” led by the Cabinet Office, JAMSTEC said.
Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is the sixth largest area in the world, which is also known as an area for high potential marine mineral resources including submarine hydrothermal deposits.
In addressing the “Next-generation Technologies for Ocean Resources Exploration,” JAMSTEC has been trying to develop highly efficient systems that can be added to its existing remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for subsea operations. As part of this effort, JAMSTEC partnered with Topy Industries, one of the top manufacturers of robot crawlers in Japan to develop crawlers necessary for multi-coring systems.
“Crawler systems allow us to collect research samples in stable conditions even when subsea surfaces are rugged or flaccid. On the other hand, when the ROV is operated at a control room on the vessel, it is necessary to watch multiple camera images at the same time. In addition, the exiting narrow view cameras can’t capture rough surfaces of the seafloor around the crawlers,” JAMSTEC said in a press release.
To solve this issue, JAMSTEC have been examining utilization of the Nissan’s AVM technology with three-dimensional image processing functions. By combing the technology with sensors that accurately measure distance between the vehicle and obstacles, it will become possible to capture real-time images as if it is watched by a bird’s eyes from above. Operators on the vessel then will be able to obtain real-time view of seafloor.
After developing necessary technologies with field testing, JAMSTEC aims to put this technology into practice for ocean resource exploration by 2018. Such technologies developed jointly with private sectors are easily transferred to them. It is expected to be utilized for ocean resource exploration widely in Japan at an early stage.