ROV SUT Falcon Frees Willy Helping Free Willy in the fourth remake of the film is a strong-swimming Falcon.
The success of the project, says Kevin Bey-Leveld, helped keep down the cost of filming.
With the world-famous Willy strapped to its back, the small Saab Seaeye Falcon ROV used its five powerful thrusters and intelligent electronics to give Willy the wriggle he needs to swim free.
“The way the Falcon flies, combined with trained ROV pilots, allowed the director to film the sequences in a relatively short space of time, in terms of normal filming,” he explains.
Filmed in South Africa, the realistic swimming motion was cleverly recreated through the precise fingertip control of the Falcon by ROV pilots Nick Stroud and Josh Smit of Marine Solutions. The biggest challenge, according to Marine Solutions director, Kevin BeyLeveld, was to make the Orca whale, with its large body, look like it really was swimming along.
Although small and compact, the Falcon was powerful enough to manoeuvre in both swimming pool and the open ocean - the trick, explained Kevin Bey-Leveld, was to balance the buoyancy to compensate between sea water and fresh water.
It is not the first time the Falcon has starred in the movies. In the Bollywood film, ‘LUCK’, also filmed in South Africa, it was strapped under a 4.2 metre long latex and polyurethane replica of a tiger shark and used to replicate the realistic swimming motion of the shark and its violent attacks on hapless swimmers. The Falcon is owned and operated by Cape Town based Marine Solutions. The ROV’s worldwide success across a range of industries, has come from its power to hold steady in strong cross currents. Its distributed intelligence control system that allows up to 128 devices to be connected together on a single RS 485 serial network. This means different equipment can be easily added and changed as needed.
Underwater Acoustic Modem Emulator EvoLogics has developed an underwater acoustic modem emulator that recently underwent successful beta-testing and will soon be available to the customers. After releasing the WiSE (White Line Science Edition) line of underwater acoustic modems with an embedded network protocol development platform, Evologics GmbH continues to promote underwater networking technologies with a new tool that offers more flexibility for underwater network protocol developers and end-users of EvoLogics underwater acoustic modems. EvoLogics’ new solution is a realtime emulator of the S2CR-series underwater acoustic modems. This tool is aimed at optimizing underwater network protocol development by taking out expensive modem hardware from the early testing stages - it emulates all
features of the modem’s data-link protocol layer and includes a simulator of the physical protocol layer. A network of virtual underwater acoustic modems, configured and run on EvoLogics server, can be accessed remotely and therefore provides a hardware-free framework for development and training. Any code, written and run on the modem emulator, can be later run on the actual modem hardware without any modifications, offering a time-saving solution that minimizes development costs for upper layer network protocols and simplifies integration of acoustic modems into underwater infrastructure. The EvoLogics underwater acoustics modems emulator underwent betatesting in 2011-2012. The company’s academic partners remotely accessed the emulator to develop and debug upper layer protocols for underwater
acoustic networks. Furthermore, some commercial customers were granted emulator access to simplify system integration of EvoLogics modems: the customers used the emulated virtual modems to get accustomed with modem control sequences before the actual hardware delivery. EvoLogics received great feedback from emulator users, who found it very convenient for debugging network protocols in development, as well as to plan and refine experiments before conducting them on real modem hardware. Valuable suggestions from the beta-test collaborators will help improve the emulator before its final release planned for fall 2012. The EvoLogics team will report on the underwater acoustic modem emulator during the UComms Conference on Underwater Communications and the FAC Conference on Manoeuvring and Control of Marine Craft.
UT2 August 2012
The August edition of UT3, the magazine of the SUT