Greensea Systems – Ocean Robotics for Smooth Operations

Greensea is a robotics company specialising in open architecture solutions for ocean systems, helping to improve the working relationship between operators and machines through three primary technologies: navigation and localization, control and autonomy, and human-machine interfaces.

With travel significantly restricted as a result of the current pandemic, the benefits of working with ocean robotics more efficiently have been further highlighted, opening up new opportunities.

 Greensea develops open architecture solutions for ocean robotics based on OPENSEA, a commercially managed open architecture software platform for developing advanced systems robustly, safely and competitively. “Adopting an open architecture solution for technology development, product line, or solution is the single most important decision any system integrator or operator can make. It provides a scalable, flexible, and severable solution that can evolve and constantly improve as requirements and technology change. Greensea provides the most comprehensive commercially managed open architecture solution for ocean robotics in the world,” said Ben Kinnaman, the company founder and CEO.

OPENSEA can integrate with almost any system in the industry, open or closed, commercial or free. It is used throughout the industry and encapsulates low levels of product management and advanced technologies like navigation, control, automation, and human-machine interface in a platform that can be extended into proprietary and secure implementations by other developers.

“Greensea is extremely operator-focused. We are technologists but we go to work every day for the operators that use our technology,” affirmed Mr Kinnaman, who started out in the industry as a diver and ROV technician, and founded the company because he felt there was a better way to advance ocean robotics. “To this day, our focus remains on the operator.”

Three pillars

 Greensea has three primary business segments. The first is OPENSEA as a Platform, its core open architecture software framework, which the company provides to major manufacturers, technology developers, and systems integrators around the world as a platform upon which they can develop their own proprietary solutions.

 The second segment is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Solutions. Within this segment, Greensea helps manufacturers transition emerging products and technologies into mature and robust products based on OPENSEA. The company then supports the OEMs through the lifecycle of their products to help them stay competitive and industry-leading with an open architecture system.

In these two segments, Greensea serves manufacturers and developers by providing its open architecture platform and engineering support. In the third segment, Program Development, the company directly serves end-users in three very focused markets: maritime Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Special Operations Forces combat diving and ship hull robotics. “Within these markets, we provide comprehensive solutions directly to operators so that they can be successful,” said Mr Kinnaman.

 He pointed out that across all markets, a common thread is clearly visible – everyone needs to work with robotics on the ocean more efficiently and more productively, with new technologies and fewer resources. In this context, open architecture solutions provide operators a robust and almost community-supported means of adopting new technologies.

“The current market developments also present an opportunity to provide a way for operators to be more productive with less. Greensea solves this problem with autonomy. Not the autonomy of Isaac Asimov, but the autonomy that works under the supervision of operators to help them achieve their goals more efficiently and productively.”

“By working closely with autonomous systems, operators can reduce crewing requirements offshore, look to the employment of unmanned surface vessels to launch subsea robotics, consider resident seafloor systems, and put extremely advanced robotic solutions in the hands of military operators effectively without the expectation that operators become engineers.”

New developments

Greensea has invested significantly over the past couple of years to bring a ship hull crawling robot to market. With development supported in part by the US Navy, Greensea has developed a novel navigation and positioning technology for miniature robots crawling upside down on a ship hull. This solution provides a very accurate ability to position and navigate robots on the hull, enabling many applications. “We are continuing this investment as we bring this product to market for the hull grooming and hull inspection applications,” said Mr Kinnaman.

He admitted that while the age of COVID has limited some aspects of business, it has also opened new opportunities. With travel significantly restricted, the traditional way of working with robotics offshore has been challenged of late. Crews are unable to travel to meet ships and ships are unable to work safely, limiting the industry’s ability to deploy robots for some tasks. Greensea has developed an open architecture solution for controlling and monitoring robots under the ocean from very long distances. This could open the doors for operators and subject matter experts being able to conduct subsea robotic operations without leaving their own home.

Finally, this year Greensea is also investing heavily in simulation technologies. “COVID risks and restrictions are limiting how our defence forces train with robotics in EOD and Special Operations Forces applications. Traditionally, military operators have trained by going to sea with robotics and technologies and working through training scenarios. With travel and gatherings limited to only the most essential activities, this type of training has been curtailed. Greensea has recently launched two simulator systems to help our operators train on our software products in the EOD and combat diving markets,” said Mr Kinnaman.

Clear focus

 Greensea places significant emphasis on really understanding how operators use its technology, what they think of its products, and what suggestions they have for improving their work through technical solutions. To support that, the company trains its engineering and production staff to work in the field, often giving them the opportunity to work alongside customers in different applications.

Mr Kinnaman reflected that the company is now in its 14th year of operation and its future development is being carefully considered. “I founded Greensea in 2006 based on a 10-year technology development roadmap followed by a commercialization strategy. We are now in our fourth year of aggressive commercial growth. In some ways, Greensea is a dichotomy. We are a mature technology company with more than 1000 deployments behind us, yet we are a relative start-up in our commercialization phase.”

 “Greensea has been growing at a rate near 50% each year for the past few years but I manage the company in a very focused manner. We adhere strictly to our business strategy and try not to get distracted. I am very careful to make sure we always provide the best technical solutions to our customers and that we are here to support them as they grow and evolve. If we get spread too thin, we cannot provide our customers with the support they need.”

“My objective as CEO is to continue the growth rate while also continuing to provide high-quality technology and service to the customers we value. To fuel that sustainable growth, we will focus on our OPENSEA as a Platform business segment and empower partners to develop new products and technologies. We will also continue to invest in our defence products so that our militaries have the tools they need to be safe and maintain an advantage over adversaries.”