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Seabotix Rugged, Capable, Compact ROV's.

This current interview features:

Tyler Schilling
Schilling Robotics President and Founder


--In 1980 I was working as a fabricator and crew member for a motorsports team on Long Island NY. We were racing at Road Atlanta when I met Andrew Bazely, one time mink farmer, now President of Tecnadyne. Mr. Bazely had designed and built a very impressive race car, we started talking and he hired me to work at an underwater products company of his in San Diego called Hydroscan. Working at Hydroscan introduced me to a new industry of remotely controlled underwater vehicles.--

--It was then that I teamed up with Wes Gerriets to start Schilling Development. Shortly afterwards we were joined by my brother Reuben and Brent Regan. Our focus was manipulator arms for use on ROVs. Our first product was a servo-hydraulic arm for use on Perry Recon vehicles. The hardware was built over many long days and nights with each of us participating in the design and fabrication of the system. We had numerous ideas about what improvements could be made that would make a more reliable and more productive arm. When we showed our demonstrator manipulator to potential customers, they could clearly see that we had a well thought out and executed design. This resulted in orders for numerous units as well as requests for the design of additional models. This lead to the TITAN series of arms ( many more long days and nights). We have always put a great deal of energy into designing solutions aimed at making the user more productive. I have had the good fortune of working with and learning from some very innovative people during my career. They have been colleges, customers and vendors. The experience has taught me that if you work hard and use your imagination, anything is possible.--

--Based on the success of our manipulator products, in 1998 we decided to start a long term development program to produce a reusable set of hardware and software building blocks that would allow customers to build remotely controlled machines for the deep ocean without having to design all of the infrastructure pieces each time. The idea came from our experience that most designs don’t become reliable until you have built several copies, so this would allow us to use all of the building blocks over and over. This lets the builder focus on the functions that are unique to that particular machines purpose. We call this group of building blocks to Remote Systems Engine (RSE). The first application of the RSE has been our Quest ROV. Canyon Offshore liked the philosophy and asked us to build an ROV based on the technology. We now have 5 Quests in the field, 4 with Canyon and one with the University of Bremen. Other customers have approached us to build a larger version of the Quest with hydraulic propulsion so we are now producing the Quest UHD which stands for Ultra Heavy Duty. It can be ordered with 100 or 150 hp and thanks to careful engineering and a novel pump control arrangement we think it will prove to be the most powerful work class machine available.--

--We are also building other deep ocean machines using the RSE building blocks, including a sea floor drill for taking core samples in 4000m water depths. The idea of the RSE is that broad range of machines can share spare parts and technician experience, both of which can be hard to come by in the remote locations that are typical of the offshore market. Our plan is to keep adding applications in order to build a critical mass of equipment in the field along with an increasing base of experience among the technical professionals that operate, service and repair the machines offshore. This has been key our success in the manipulator area. Most of the technicians in the industry are familiar with our equipment, and spare parts are available at a moments notice. We have extended this philosophy further with the RSE by engineering a set of building blocks that can be used across many applications. An example would be a situation where a customer is operating a workover system and an ROV on a job and both systems use the RSE building blocks. In this case, the two crews could share spare parts and technical knowledge in the course of completing the job. I expect that our plans for the broad application of our RSE, will take many years to unfold. It is likely that we will become engineered into new systems as they are designed as well as providing solutions to retrofit existing equipment that is based on electronics designs that are too old to easily support.--

--Now that we have finished the bulk of the development on the RSE, we are working on updating our manipulator products. Our first project is to enhance the TITAN line with the introduction of the TITAN 4. This builds on the decade of reliability improvements with a new slave control electronics assembly. The revised electronics fit inside the forearm of the manipulator, eliminating the need for a separate bottle and costly multi-conductor cable. We will be introducing this model later in the year as well as retrofit kits to allow T3 machines to take advantage of this new design.--

--We are fortunate to have a group of competent employees that are patient, persistent and dedicated. We did not gain popularity in the manipulator market overnight and expect that the popularity of the RSE will take some time as well.--

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