Discovery Vision System: Enhancing Situational Awareness for ROV Piloting

Written by Patricia Sestari

July 31, 2023


The underwater world remains a realm of mystery and exploration, where remote operated vehicles (ROVs) serve as our eyes and hands beneath the surface. These robotic platforms rely on advanced vision systems to perceive their surroundings accurately and assist operators in piloting, inspecting, and interacting with the underwater environment. 

Voyis has introduced the Discovery Vision System, a groundbreaking solution that revolutionizes ROV piloting by enhancing situational awareness. In this blog post, we will delve into the key features of the Discovery Vision System, highlighting its ability to provide a larger field of view, superior image and video enhancements, 3D depth measurements, and the creation of a real-time digital twin of the environment. 

Expanding the Field of View 

The Discovery Vision System revolutionizes ROV piloting by significantly expanding the field of view (FOV), which has traditionally been limited in conventional ROV cameras. By utilizing advanced optics and sensor technology, the system offers a wider perspective, enabling operators to have an extended view of their surroundings. 

With an increased FOV, ROV pilots can now navigate and maneuver with enhanced confidence and precision. They gain a comprehensive understanding of their operational environment, allowing them to proactively identify and avoid obstacles, monitor tether entanglement risks, and maintain a heightened situational awareness throughout their missions. 

The expanded FOV provided by the Discovery Vision System empowers operators to explore and inspect larger areas without the need for frequent adjustments or repositioning. This results in improved operational efficiency and reduced piloting workload.  

Image and Video Enhancements 

Clarity of vision is crucial for effective piloting and inspection tasks. Traditional ROV cameras suffer from limited resolution, poor optics, insufficient lighting, and compression artifacts that reduce image quality and hinder accurate feature detection.  

The Discovery Vision System employs advanced image and video enhancement techniques to overcome these challenges. By correcting image distortions, applying colour correction, leveling lighting conditions, and implementing high dynamic range sensor data, the system delivers crisp and detailed visuals. Operators can now observe fine details, identify critical features, and make informed decisions based on a clearer understanding of the underwater environment. 

The Discovery produces underwater images with colours shown as they would be perceived in air. Explorers are able to visualize the true colour of subsea assets and uncover details not prevalent with standard cameras. 

In addition to that, the Voyis Discovery System applies light correction to videos and images. A core challenge with standard cameras is producing an even illumination across the entire camera field of view. This is critical for the image’s visual appearance and to ensure that features can be detected in the center of the image and the corners. 

Voyis vision systems employ a two-pronged approach to combat the phenomenon of uneven lighting, utilizing both physical and algorithmic lighting correction. The system comes integrated with Voyis Nova Lights, and dynamic range – the ability of the camera to resolve a wide range of light intensities, both very dim light returns and bright reflections. 

Standard camera vision
Voyis colour corrected vision
Voyis colour corrected and undistorted image

3D Point Clouds 

Depth perception is vital for ROV pilots, as it enables accurate distance estimation, maneuvering, and manipulation of objects in the underwater environment. The Discovery Stereo Vision System utilizes two cameras to capture 3D depth measurements.  

By analyzing the disparity between image pairs in real-time, the system generates 3D point cloud, providing operators with precise depth information. This feature enhances situational awareness and enables more accurate manipulation and autonomy capabilities for ROVs. 

When coupled with VSLAM (Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) technology, the Discovery Vision System goes beyond traditional perception capabilities. By modeling the area in real-time and creating a digital twin of the environment, operators can gain a comprehensive understanding of the areas explored by the ROV. This digital twin provides valuable insights into the underwater landscape, facilitates planning and decision-making, and supports post-mission analysis.  

Real-time 3D model generated using Voyis Discovery Stereo

Voyis’ Discovery Vision System represents a significant advancement in ROV vision technology, empowering operators with unprecedented situational awareness and paving the way for more effective and efficient underwater operations. With a larger field of view, enhanced image and video quality, 3D depth measurements, and real-time 3D modeling capabilities, the Discovery Vision System eliminates the compromise between piloting and inspection cameras, providing a comprehensive vision solution for ROV operators.  

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