Keynote speakers


Dr Jan Opderbecke
Underwater Systems Unit, IFREMER,
Toulon – France

Jan Opderbecke is an electrical engineer with a PhD in Signal Processing. Head of a team for Underwater Robotics, Acoustics and Optics at Ifremer, the French Institute for Ocean Research, he is interested in deep water intervention vehicles, and in particular in seafloor observation and mapping with optical and acoustic sensors. He has led the Institute’s AUV program since 2004, and he has participated or conducted numerous technical and scientific cruises at sea. He contributes in several national and european projects.

Session title:  An innovative vehicle concept for ocean science: Ifremer’s hybrid ROV first sea trial experience
Abstract:The fleet of Ifremer’s underwater systems provides remote controlled or autonomous access to the deep ocean. With thousands of dives, systems like the Nautile or Victor6000 have been innovative tools of French ocean sciences for the last decades. The systems are equipped with means to map, monitor and sample the sea floor. Vehicles capable of working at big depth and dimensioned do offer a high level of functionality with payload capability for extensive sampling, are multi-ton systems operated from large ocean going vessels. With the hybrid ROV, Ifremer intends to complete the park of assets with a versatile system that allows operation from small size coastal vessels: the HROV is an innovative concept that allows interactive ROV class 2 type work down to 2500m of depth from 25m up vessels that may not feature dynamic positioning, and hence opens the door for a broad and inexpensive access to deep coastal areas.

The conceptual framework of the HROV is based on a light but reusable optic fiber link between vehicle and surface control station. In order to manage safe and reactive control of up to 400m of Kevlar reinforced optic fiber, the active spooler (tether management system) is mounted on the vehicle itself. The fiber is linked to a vessel born terminal in low depth applications and to a depressor weight for depth intervention. Connecting to a mechanically strong ‘pigtail’ cable, the HROV is strongly linked to the dead weight for recovery or descent to working depth. When disconnecting from the optic fiber, the vehicle can switch to autonomous mode implementing full AUV capabilities.

Powered from LI batteries the system has autonomy for 10h dives. With thruster architecture optimized for energy efficient control, the HROV is designed for sampling and optical survey close to the sea bottom in cliff and canyon type environments, for which it features innovative solutions for instrumentation, navigation and piloting functions. The vehicle carries various payloads including two electric 5 and 7 function manipulators, and has extensive video and still imaging devices.

The talk will give detailed insight in the design of the vehicle and its sub-systems. After 2 years of development, the HROV accomplishes first sea trials in November 2014.


asgeir AMOSmartin Ludvigsen

Dr. Asgeir J. Sørensen and Dr. Martin Ludvigsen
Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS),

Professor Asgeir J. Sørensen obtained MSc degree in Marine Technology in 1988 at NTNU, and PhD degree in Engineering Cybernetics at NTNU in 1993. In 1989-1992 Sørensen was employed at MARINTEK as Research Scientist. In 1993 Sørensen was employed as Research Scientist at ABB Corporate Research Norway. In 1994 he became R&D Coordinator/Project Manager at ABB Industri. In 1996 he was appointed to Manager of Positioning Systems in ABB Industri. From 1998 to 2001 Sørensen was Technical Manager in the Business Area Automation Marine and Turbochargers, ABB Automation. In December 2002 Sørensen and 5 partners founded the company, Marine Cybernetics AS, where he was acting as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) until June 2010. DNV GL acquired Marine Cybernetics in May 2014. In 2012 Sørensen became a co-founder of the NTNU spin-off company Ecotone AS. Since 1999 Sørensen has held the position of Professor of Marine Control Systems at the Department of Marine Technology, NTNU. He is currently acting as the Director of the Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) at the Departments of Marine Technology and Engineering Cybernetics, NTNU.

Session title: Towards Integrated Autonomous Underwater Operations
The Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) at NTNU (Norway) is as a ten-year research program, 2013-2022, addressing research challenges related to autonomous marine operations and systems applied in e.g. maritime transportation, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, fisheries and aquaculture, oceans science, offshore renewable energy and marine mining. Fundamental knowledge is created through multidisciplinary theoretical, numerical and experimental research within the knowledge fields of hydrodynamics, structural mechanics, guidance, navigation and control. This paper gives an overview of the research challenges, achievements and experience at AMOS from selected field trials related to integrated autonomous underwater operations for mapping and monitoring purposes in coastal waters in Norway and Arctic operations outside Svalbard. Cutting-edge inter-disciplinary research involving technology and marine science fields such as marine biology and archaeology will provide the needed bridge to make high levels of autonomy a reality towards autonomous underwater operations. Integrating different sensors and sensors platforms such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), Remotely Operated Vehicles, moorings/landers and ship-based systems will be shown.



Dr. Stefan B. Williams
Australian Centre for Field Robotics
Sydney, Australia

Stefan B. Williams is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney’s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering. He is a member of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics where he leads the Marine Robotics group. He is also the head of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Facility. His research interests include Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping in unstructured underwater environments using visual and acoustic sensing, autonomous navigation and control and classification and clustering of large volumes of data collected by robotic systems. He received his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2002 and completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Canada in 1997.

Session title: Reflections on a decade of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for Marine Survey
Abstract:This talk will present insights gained from the operation of an Australia-wide benthic observing program designed to deliver precisely navigated, time series imagery of the seafloor using Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). This initiative makes extensive use of AUVs to collect high-resolution stereo imagery, multibeam sonar and water column measurements on an annual or semi-annual basis at sites around Australia, spanning the full latitudinal range of the continent from tropical reefs in the north to temperate regions in the south. In this talk, we will provide an update on the status of this observing program and outline examples of research that has been facilitated by this work in the areas of environmental monitoring, archaeology and geosciences. Examples of these outcomes highlight our ability to revisit survey sites across multiple years and illustrate how automated tools can be used to identify patterns within the large volumes of data being collected.


Dr Hugh Ferguson
Subsea7, Aberdeenshire – United Kingdom

Hugh Ferguson has been working in the Offshore Oil and Gas industry worldwide for 30 years. Originally as a Geophysicist his career path has taken him through Offshore Surveying and Subsea Engineering. Culminating in managing large scale EPCI deep water subsea and pipeline trunk line installation projects.
More recently he has moved back into the sensing, inspection, repair and maintenance phases of the offshore Oil and Gas life cycle. He currently works for Subsea 7, a global first tier Subsea Engineering and Installation company, as the Technical Director for Life of Field Operations. Part of his role is to oversee the development program for Subsea 7’s Autonomous Inspection vehicle.

Session title: The role of AUV’s in the Oil & Gas Industry
Abstract: In order to analyse the role of AUV’s within the offshore oil and gas industry you have to understand the operational requirements of established survey, inspection and installation methods through robotics, mainly remotely operated vehicles.

The role of the AUV has been defined by a very conservative industry sector, with established risk free methods. Up until recently AUV’s have been defined by what they cannot achieve rather than what their unique capabilities offer. However recent adoption of more advanced visual and sensing systems, together with a significant cost challenge and industry turn down is now seriously undermining the established paradigm.

The paper will outline the changes in AUV use and the potential obstacles for future integration. Vehicles such as Subsea7’s autonomous hovering inspection vehicle are starting to address those limitations. In addition why the world where all vehicles within this sector are autonomous is a significant way off and not necessarily the optimum or correct approach.



Dr James G. Bellingham
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
Woods Hole – U.S.A.
Session title: The future of AUV technologies

James G. Bellingham is the founding Director of the Center for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dr. Bellingham was formerly Chief Technologist and earlier Director of Engineering at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. He was founder and manager of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and cofounder of Bluefin Robotics, a Massachusetts-based company that develops, builds, and operates autonomous underwater vehicles, which has since been acquired by Battelle. He was a member of the Naval Research Advisory Committee for seven years, including serving as Chair. Dr. Bellingham has also served on a variety of National Academies studies including the Committee on An Ocean Infrastructure Strategy for US Ocean Research in 2030, the Committee on Distributed Remote Sensing for Naval Undersea Warfare, and the Committee on Seafloor Observatories: Challenges and Opportunities. His awards include the Lockheed Martin Award for Ocean Science and Engineering and the MIT Fourteenth Robert Bruce Wallace lecturer. He holds an SB, an SM, and a PhD from MIT.



Michel Brochard
DG Connect A2 Robotics
European Commission
Session title: Opportunities for Underwater Robotics in H2020

Michel Brochard is an electronic engineer and worked 9 years in the telecommunications sector at Alcatel Bell before joining the European Commission in 1995. Since then, he worked for DG Connect (former DG INFSO & DG XIII) as Project Officer, supervising research and non-research co-financed projects in different areas such as electronic publishing, HRI or robotics.

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