Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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AIR PROTOTYPING 40   February/March 2018 unmanned systems inside to humans in new ways—using advances in robotics to improve eff iciency, lower costs and reduce the risks of marine operations. To do this, CMR collaborates with industry sponsors, academic partners, and key gov- ernment agencies "to change the way people and machines work together in the marine environment. "The Center is a membership research or- ganization," McGee said. "It's essentially the interplay between our science and tech group here as well as the academic and industrial components of our industry. You know, our marine robotics companies, small, big—every- thing from startups all the way up to very large corporations." When it opened in 2017, DunkWorks was only available to CMR staff or members of the CMR community—that is the collective membership that supports CMR, often by funding Center projects. Now that is chang- ing. DunkWorks is opening its doors to ex- ternal members. A basic membership is $500 a month plus WHOI overhead with a minimum member- ship of five months. Members are also charged directly for the materials they use. That gets you open access so "you can come in and noodle and tinker," McGee said. The only other thing (members) will have to pay for is the higher end materials if they want to use the larger 3-D printer. There's a material cost for that because materials are, in 3-D printing, still very expensive." There are '"no preconditions" to member- ship, Bellingham said. "The idea is for the Center for Marine Robotics' smaller member companies to be given a certain amount of access to the space," McGee said, "and then, obviously, we want to attract inventors and startups and things of that nature." Judson Poole, who works in WHOI's Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering department, was on hand during the DunkWorks summer opening, milling a part to fit onto a REMUS 600 autonomous underwater vehicle. Poole said he chose the machine he was us- ing because it was a quick way to modify the part. If he wanted to build a piece from scratch, there was a 3-D printer he would choose in- stead that could do the job much faster—and it was sufficiently automated that he could do other things while it was working. DunkWorks has hosted a biologist laser scanning and printing 3-D models of barnacles and a group of vision-impaired scientists who were discussing whether rapid 3-D printing could help them interact with and understand their datasets. Most of the current activity, however, is focused on design and prototyping. "At the moment we have a lot of people do- ing kind of what we expected them to do," Bellingham said, "which is to do rapid prototyp- ing. They have an idea—they want to mount a camera in a pressure housing but they need to make a very complicated structure. So they come down, they do a laser scan of the camera. They have a model already of the housing. They print something up—uh oh, it doesn't work because it interferes (with something). They fix it, they print up another one and the next one works." If what you want to is figure out how to fix things, and make things, and do things—"this is the place to do it," Poole said. "THE CONCEPT IS TO ITERATE QUICKLY, FAIL CHEAPLY, FAIL QUICKLY, BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO FAIL WHEN YOU'RE ALL THE WAY OUT AT SEA." Leslie-Ann McGee, assistant director, Center for Marine Robotics 3-D printers offer a range of prototyping options. Photo courtesy of Dee Ann Divis.

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