Octans Nano, an AHRS quickly adopted by the main ROV manufacturers and operators

Open up the offshore history books and in 1998 iXblue delivered the first Octans. Planting the innovative technology flag in the market, Octans was immediately able to provide its users with never before seen performance. Operational environments subsea were demanding on the Octans, but the unit proved through application-focused design more than able to meet the challenge. Almost 20 years and hundreds of Octans delivered later, the subsea industry still sees Octans as the go-to solution for subsea attitude and heading reference measurements. The design’s form factor is the still the same, which at the outset was extremely compact. Two decades on, however, technology has reduced its footprint in some of the ancillary products and in the systems with which Octans integrates.

Fast forward from iXblue’s genesis and we arrive at a moment in time where demands from the subsea UUV market are placing new challenges and requirements on iXblue’s FOG based Octans. Not only is ultimate performance, industrialization and survivability key, electronics and processing power demands are now driving towards smaller commoditized products. Clearly, it was only a matter of time before even more efficient, reliable and smaller vehicles would be able to meet the challenges posed by subsea operations. While these challenges are still being met by iXblue’s 19 year old product Octans, the market craves the benefits of smaller systems allowing for the myriad of additional sensors onboard UUV platforms that would enable more work to be accomplished with fewer dives and ultimately less time spent in the field. Less time in the field reduces costs and offers precious mitigation factors in a naturally safety-conscious market.

As an answer to this shift in what the subsea market was demanding of its UUVs, iXblue was now poised to challenge its own status quo – Octans – with a brand new unit. In 2015, Octans-Nano emerged onto the market, using a smaller 50 mm FOG instead of Octans’ 90mm FOG. Quickly, users of the Octans looked for ways to integrate Octans-Nano into their operations. While Octans-Nano, with its smaller FOG, produced marginally less accurate AHRS measurements, it was well suited for its target application in the market. All the while complementing Octans, the Octans-Nano enhances iXblue’s product offering by expanding the FOG-based product range to cater for a wider set of applications in the UUV navigation market.

In 2017, after 2 years on the market, Octans-Nano is today earning its own accolades and has secured its place alongside its big brother. Key to those accolades are the unit’s full life reliability and industry confidence that, when set to work, it works every time. This notoriety has also gained the attention of OEM integrators at the UUV manufacturing level, and two very special versions of Octans-Nano have been released to meet the specific requirements of Schilling Robotics and Oceaneering.

The first unit was a fully industrialized version of Octans-Nano with two factory pre-installed Schilling Seanet connectors. One of the Seanets was set up in serial mode to support the legacy pilot software that runs the Schilling UHD/HD ROVs. The second Seanet was set up in Ethernet mode for tight integration into Schilling’s subsea node system that forms the backbone of all communications with devices on the ROV. Additionally, this Ethernet Seanet is used to interface with Schilling’s next generation pilot software.
The second industrialized version of Octans-Nano had 2 x CSMAJ connectors from Seacon, which are standard on Oceaneering’s ROV programs. The connector scheme called for one of these connectors to be serial for legacy support. The second connector was set up as Ethernet for console use. Additionally, the Ethernet connector was added to future proof the industrialization of this unit.

The offshore market has benefitted from 20 years of highly innovative and industrially robust products from iXblue. While the next generation of iXblue subsea navigation FOGs are being designed into the next era of offshore subsea operations, the new generation are being operated alongside the expanding range of iXblue’s FOG family of products.