Team Tao Receive Special Recognition in Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Competition

June 3, 2019

A team of North East-based subsea engineering experts from Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) and Newcastle University have been recognised for their innovative engineering approach in the prestigious Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition.

Team Tao, the only UK team and one of the smallest to reach the grand final of the Ocean XPRIZE, were recognised for their highly innovative approach as the organisers announced a surprise additional Moonshot Award at the prestigious awards ceremony held in Monaco.

During the final round testing, Team Tao demonstrated their autonomous swarm system technology launched from an ASV, and competed against seven other teams from around the world to map an area the size of Paris in deep waters off the coast of Greece near the port city of Kalamata.

Team Tao were able to clearly demonstrate the capability and efficiency of their swarm system of subsea drones and an autonomous surface deployment and recovery vessel.

Dale Wakeham, SMD Design Engineer and Team Tao Project Leader, said: “It has been an honour to compete in the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Competition, our small team has worked tirelessly over the past year to develop and prove our technology. While the Ocean XPRIZE competition posed a significant challenge, it has been an opportunity to showcase to the world what the future of subsea survey looks like.”

 

Mike Jones, SMD CEO, said: “I am delighted that Team Tao has received this Moonshot Award as recognition for their hard work and achievement. We began this journey with an ambitious dream, a small, young energetic team, a clean sheet of paper and a modest budget.   With Newcastle University we secured a fantastic partner to create Team Tao. Solving engineering problems by looking at them from a different angle is the essence of what we do at SMD, and Team Tao has engineered a truly pioneering way to efficiently survey the ocean floor and water column. I’d like to thank our partners and sponsors who have generously supported us on our journey through the Ocean XPRIZE competition, and in particular UK Research and Innovation. We still have a lot of hard work and investment ahead of us to bring this technology to market.  When we do we are confident that this will change the way we understand our oceans in future.”

 

Nick Wright, Newcastle University Team Lead, said: “The project has been a fantastic collaboration that has really stretched the team to be inventive and imaginative – with contributions from the team based at the National Centre and also at the Newcastle University SEALAB, led by Jeff Neasham, who have provided a world-leading sonar technology.”

The competition is part of XPRIZE’s 10-year Ocean Initiative – a commitment made to launch five multi-million dollar prizes by 2020 to address critical ocean challenges and inspire innovation that helps create an ocean that is healthy, valued and understood.

SMD and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are the title sponsors behind Team Tao. SMD is a world-leading designer and manufacturer of specialist subsea remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) based in Newcastle upon Tyne. UKRI is a national funding agency with a £6 billion budget to invest in science and research across the UK. It brings together seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.  Newcastle University is a world-leader in subsea engineering and acoustics research, bringing together experts from a wide range of engineering and scientific backgrounds.

Andrew Tyrer, Challenge Director – Robotics, UK Research and Innovation, said: “The technology showcased by Team Tao represents the best in UK innovation and it is fantastic that this has been recognised by the judges in this competition. The UK is a world leader in the field of robotics and UK Research and Innovation is supporting this vital sector through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.”

Other sponsors and supporters of Team Tao include Rajant, Sonardyne, WAM-V, Lenovo, Altair, Swansea University, Advanced Industrial Solutions, Solidworks, Matrix Composites & Engineering and Volz Servos.

Learn more about Team Tao

Learn more about the Shell Ocean Discovery XPrize

General

SMD Sign Contract to Supply Atom Mk1 ROV System to China Southern Power Grid

April 12, 2018

World leading subsea equipment design and manufacturer Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) are pleased to announce the signature of a contract to supply its Atom Mk1 1000m 100hp Work Class Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) system to Chinese power specialist China Southern Power Extra High Voltage Power Transmission Company (EHV, CSG), a subsidiary of the state-owned China Southern Power Grid (CSG).

The ROV will be used for inspection of the 31km physical power cable connections in the Qiongzhou Strait between Hainan Island and mainland China. The Qiongzhou strait often experiences high currents so it was essential that CSG chose a compact and powerful ROV to cope with the harsh conditions.

The Atom system is SMD’s lightest work class ROV suitable for offshore power applications, survey and light construction duties, and can be mobilised on vessels with limited deck space. For this contract, SMD will integrate a TSS350 cable tracking system and other survey tools to perform cable inspection.

Mark Collins, SMD business development director, said: “Our Atom system has a proven track record working in challenging operational environments, varying from shallow waters and high currents to scorching temperatures, all of which can cause significant problems for standard work class ROVs. For this order, Atom will showcase its ability to operate in high currents and will call upon its market-leading dynamic positioning system to ensure survey data is of the highest quality.”

Scheduled for delivery at the end of 2018, the ROV will be equipped with SMD’s proven and reliable range of Curvetech® components, DVECSII control system and 20ft control cabin which will be mobilised on board CSG’s new cable installation vessel. As part of the contract, SMD Services is also providing bespoke training courses to ensure CSG’s operational team are prepared with the necessary operating skills.

SMD Services will utilise CRRC SMD Shanghai’s facilities to support mobilisation of the ROV on board CSG’s new vessel. They will also lead on the sea trials ensuring the ROV operates at maximum capacity with support from the SMD Services offshore team, who will be on hand to provide assistance for any on deck ROV support.

ROVS