How has COVID-19 helped us as an underwater drone manufacturer in remote inspections

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 / Blueye Office

No doubt that COVID-19 hit us at Blueye Robotics. We had to quickly find new ways to communicate with clients instead of travelling to them. Personally, I have dedicated much of my time to having discussions and presentations through our Blueye Webinars. This has expanded my reach as well as helped to scale our partner network. But to be honest, I’ve seen a clear shift in customer priorities, and everyone in sales must fight for time and attention in today’s market. Pushing new technology and new ways of working requires dedication and consistency, especially now.

A while back, a performance analyst for a global marine coating company told me:

Henri, the winner in the underwater drone market will be the company that provides quickest access to inspection data.

Basically, this means that the performance team in Europe needs to get access to the data (video, images, the fact that the inspection is done) instantly, even if the inspector is from an external organization. This request has stuck to my mind ever since.

From day one, the mission of Blueye has been to help our customers get frictionless access to see below the surface. Sometimes this means that a dam safety engineer can look at his or her assets without calling a dive team, and sometimes this means that a dive team can document their work or even replace the human dive. For one of our Norwegian shipping companies this means that the Chief Officer can discuss the need for hull cleaning together with the fleet director for optimal performance and even include class and officials if necessary.

Why has COVID-19 helped us as an underwater drone manufacturer? The need to get access below the surface remotely has exploded. The ability to use software like Microsoft Teams has exploded since travelling is restricted.

I'm truly grateful for the speed and agility of our R&D team as we launched a feature which enables the use of Microsoft Teams for collaboration and live-streaming directly from the underwater inspections or in-water surveys. The benefits of how the Blueye App is part of a broader mobile ecosystem is often overlooked by users. An agile mobile platform and a skilful development team is like a fertile land ready for seeds of success.

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Imagine having a surveyor in Singapore inspect the hull of the vessel for fouling while communicating and showing footage through Microsoft Teams (without external hardware) directly to a performance team in Oslo, and possibly even the coating company. Imagine an incident assessment performed by a crew member, communication with class and the technical team altogether securely via MS Teams. I believe access to what is below the surface has taken a significant step up the past months.

The value proposition is out there. The ROI is there. Drones are the future and they are here already today. The next phase is looking into operational steps. How do you get more underwater drones in the water? How do you get used to inspecting more frequently? How do you involve relevant parties to the same meeting to analyze the footage below the surface? How will you make better decisions? I can see that the use of underwater drones is constantly increasing and I'm looking forward to seeing our customers get more and more benefits out of them.

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