Rescuing the Control System of an Ocean ROV

April 24, 2017

 

Since 1960 Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) have played a crucial role in oceanic exploration. Not only capable of advanced robotics, ROVs are able to collect deep-sea data without affecting the health and behavior patterns of the marine ecosystems. Marine rovers are an indispensable tool in ocean exploration.

 

It was with a bit of urgency that a world-renowned oceanic research institution approached Cyth concerned about the future of their ROV. Their device ran on a Compact FieldPoint (cFP) control system, which is obsolete and can no longer be replaced or repaired.  With their vehicle constantly in use, there was high risk for a future failure resulting in very long time out-of-service. The upgrade would have to be confidently managed with limited access to the ROV, and the plan was put into place to begin without delay.  For this application, the NI Compact-RIO (cRIO) combined with Cyth's installation methodology was a good choice.

 

To migrate LabVIEW code from an obsolete cFP to a high-speed cRIO is not an easy task, especially when it concerns an ROV that is difficult to truly test and is not available for development. In fact, even under normal conditions there can be some surprises that go along with companies trying to do it themselves both in software and hardware.  After meeting with Cyth and learning how to not only migrate LabVIEW code but understand what the code is doing and why it's doing it, encouraged this oceanic research agency they picked the right people for the job. 

 

Cyth was allotted 80 hours to modified their embedded code and deploy it onto the ROV's new Compact-RIO. On top of that, Cyth was also assigned to modify their top-level VI (GUI) for their Windows computer. All this was successfully completed in under 60 hours. Cyth and the client decided to utilize the remaining time by having Cyth clean-up any inefficient, or sloppy, code.

 

During the migration, it became clear that the customer had some additional needs, including some features that were never improved over time and some sensors that were obsolete and should be replaced.  However, the sensors were not compatible with the existing wiring and control I/O modules, which required replacement or a plan. Since the project had gone so well already and the code was being edited, the choice to add an additional feature could be handled easily.  However, the architecture of the code was not compatible with having more signals collected or to handle certain states, which required a slight re-architecture.  With just another 60 hours, the architecture was re-done and compatible with a lot of flexiblity in the future.

 

From the conception of this Compact FieldPoint project to the end, both parties were extremely happy with the partnership and the results. It's sad to say, but migrating LabVIEW code from cFPs is a prevalent issue for many companies in a variety of fields. But knowing Cyth is available, knowledgeable, and successful is a fact that turns the tides for companies and integrators around the world.

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