After a certain pandemic prompted a pause in proceedings, the Oceanology International (Oi) show and conference has burst back into action with its special blend of technology, solutions and high-level discussions for the world ocean scientific community.
The queues developed at 0830 for the event, which opened at 0900 at London’s ExCel Centre. The importance of ocean data, whether obtaining it, interpreting it or acting on it in the most effective and sustainable ways, was front and centre of discussions from the start. Dr Rick Spinrad, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, summed up the overarching theme by officially opening the 2022 Oceanology International Conference with the following inspiring words: “Oceanology International is the premium opportunity for discussing the intersection between technology and the business of managing our oceans into the future. My boss, President Joe Biden, would say ‘the New Blue Economy means jobs’, and a quick sprint this morning around the show floor reinforces this fact with the plethora of new opportunities clearly on offer.”
US manufacturer of groundwater and wastewater quality monitoring systems and first-time exhibitor In-Situ decided to use Oi to broaden the market for their sensor systems. Rod Houston, In-Situ’s Application Technologies Development Manager, says, “We’re excited to be here. We are already well-known and proven in the environmental and process sectors and chose Oi to connect with the ocean scientific industry as the ‘go-to’ event in this sector.”
Emerging from the heart of a cracked iceberg themed stand lined with LCD screens, reminiscent of an action movie set, iXblue with its DriX autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) represented a considerable investment in terms of both stand footprint and visual creative effort. “DriX was actually launched at Oi 4 years ago,” says a company spokesperson, “and we knew that as soon as the industry shows opened up again we’d need to get meeting with our clients and potential clients to bring them up to speed with how we have developed the vehicle, how it’s being used in the real world and the new solutions and opportunities it can now provide.”
The biggest stand launch of the day was undoubtedly the unveiling of Kongsberg Maritime’s HUGIN Edge. Over 100 guests lined the stand as the covers were slid back from the sleek new medium-sized carbon monocoque AUV. Richard Mills, Vice President of Marine Robotic Sales at Kongsberg Maritime, presented at the launch: “It was really nice to see so many here, great to connect with people again and bring them something so unique at this size and ability level. We held back the launch of HUGIN Edge a couple of months so we could unveil it at this important event, and looking at the interest it has got already, that was clearly the right decision.”
One of Oi’s biggest draws for exhibitors and visitors alike has always been the on-water demonstrations, and this year is no exception with newsworthy on-water demos from Fugro’s mighty 12-metre Blue Essence uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) to the small but perfectly formed (less than 0.5 metre) X-3 USV from Blueye Robotics. Norwegian manufacturer Blueye has become well-known for its consumer or “pro-sumer” underwater drones, but the choice to exhibit at Oi reflects a move into a more professional sphere thanks to the increased capabilities of its new X-3 model. Blueye’s Senior Software Engineer Andreas Viggen says, “We’ve had a lot of interest. The ability to demonstrate the vehicle to potential end-users in its proper environment has been instrumental in the choice to present the X-3 here. While there isn’t a lot to see on the seafloor of the Royal Albert Dock here, we have been able to have potential customers actually steer the vehicle themselves and experience features such as our station keeping; an invaluable opportunity.”
Show Organiser at RX Global, David Ince, says, “Day 1 at Oi 2022 has been a great welcome back to face-to-face events for an industry that thrives on close working relationships. We’ve seen a global audience seeing the very best in ocean technology today, and with two more days to go Oi will continue to be an invaluable platform that sets the upcoming agenda for the worldwide ocean tech and scientific industry.”
Oceanology International runs until 17 March and is completely free to attend. Register here for your entry badge.