June 2023 OES Beacon

Underwater Technology 2023 (UT23) with webinar, Tokyo, Japan, 6-9 March, 2023

Masanao Shinohara, Symposium General Co-Chair of UT23, OES Japan Chapter Chair

Fig. 1: UT’23 Logo

The IEEE OES international symposium on Underwater Technology 2023 (UT23) organized by IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (IEEE/OES), IEEE/OES Japan Chapter, Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo, and Earthquake Research Institute (ERI), the University of Tokyo, was held from 6 to 9 March, 2023, at IIS, the University of Tokyo. The UT23 was basically an in-person meeting, however, also had a webinar option. The venue was assigned to the conference hall named as “Haricot” on the second floor, and a meeting room on the third floor of the building An, IIS, the University of Tokyo. Originally the Underwater Technology was planned to be held in 2021 at IIS, the University of Tokyo. However, the meeting was postponed till March 2023 due to COVID-19. Although The Underwater Technology 2021 online (UT21 Online), which consisted of two special programs: two keynote talks and Underwater Video Competition was held, the international symposium on Underwater Technology was opened for the first time in four years.

Fig. 2: UT23 Web top page

There were 162 researchers, students and professionals from 20 countries appearing for this important gathering for the underwater technology community. In the symposium, one keynote panel and two keynote talks were given on the 7th and 8th in the late afternoon, respectively.

Group photo taken during the UT23

Two parallel sessions were arranged for the 75 talks such that the attendees could have the best coverage of participation at their own interest. Because the UT23 accepted online presentations, 14 presentations were performed through webinar. All the presentations were also broadcast via webinar.  Student Poster Session was held online, however, in the hall “Foyer” positioned next to the “Haricot,” all 13 student posters drew the attendees’ attention about the young talents for the ocean, while nine booths demonstrated their up-to-date products and information for new solutions. The “Foyer” and several social places, including presentation venues, gave opportunities for refreshing old friendships from four years ago and establishing new connections.

Fig. 4 Photograph of participants for the pre-event of the UT23

The activity of UT23 started with the pre-event carried out in the afternoon on the 6th of March at the “Horicot” in IIS, the University of Tokyo by IEEE/OES Hong Kong Chapter and IEEE/OES Japan Chapter. The pre-event “Workshop on Career Path Benefits of AUV/ROV Competitions” aimed introduction of the AUV/ROV Competitions in Asian countries, Europe and America. Discussions on how the competitions improve the career opportunities in this area and how such competition and networking helps prepare for such a career to the competition participants (students and young researchers) were held. First, lectures and discussions leading by Co-Chairs Dr. Takumi Matsuda, Meiji University, and Dr. Paul A. Hodgson, City University of Hong Kong, were given. Then a demonstration was performed at the pool tank in IIS, the University of Tokyo, with a webinar by the University of Tokyo student team, the University of Tokyo team, and Hong Kong team.

Fig. 5 MATE ROV Competition introductive training at pool in IIS, the University of Tokyo.

UT23 started on March 7th, 2023, with the opening ceremony led by Dr. Chang-Kyu Rheem, General Co-Chair of UT23, professor of IIS, the University of Tokyo. The opening ceremony was also distributed using webinar to the world. At the opening, Dr. Katsuyoshi Kawaguchi, General Co-Chair of UT23, the Director of Engineering Department, Japan Agency for Marin-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Mr. Robert L. Wernli, General Co-Chair of UT23, and Professor Fausto Ferreira, IEEE OES VPWS, gave welcome messages to greet the guests.

Keynote talks

Fig. 6. At the opening ceremony, Dr. Kawaguchi, a general co-chair of UT23 gave a welcome address.

Keynote talks consisted of three sessions. Professor Yutaka Michida, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, the University of Tokyo convened and led the keynote session “the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science” on the evening of the 7th.  Prof. Michida, Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), and Professor Dato’Dr Noraieni Haji Mokhtar, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, gave the keynote talk, and followed by a panel discussion.   Dr. Vladimir Ryabinin joined the keynote talk through the internet.  You can read the UN Decade panel report by Professor Michida in this issue.

The second talk was given by Dr. G.A. Ramadass, National Institute of Ocean Technology (NOIT), India, by webinar in the afternoon on the 8th of March. Title of his presentation was “Technology for the Deep Ocean Exploration,” and his talk included the introduction of underwater unmanned vehicles in NIOT, India. Finally, Prof. Karen Heywood, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, gave a keynote talk entitled as “Ocean Observations Using Autonomous Vehicles in Challenging Environments.” She also made a presentation and discussion through webinar. Although there were online speakers for all the keynote talk sessions, presentations and discussiosn with persons in the venue were conducted uninterruptedly.

Fig. 7: Prof. Michida, Dr. Ryabinin, and Prof. Mokhtar (left), Dr. Ramadass, and Prof. Heywood (right) gave the keynote talks in afternoon on 7th and 8th March.

Technical Sessions

Professor Toshihiro Maki chaired the technical program committee. The 125 submitted abstracts were peer-reviewed, and 99 papers including 13 posters were selected by the technical committee for presentation categorized into the following topics:

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Marine Construction
  • Marine Robotics
  • Acoustics and Communications
  • Sensors
  • Observatory and Disaster Mitigation
  • Special Topic: Remote Observation and Cloud Computing
  • Marine Mineral Resources
  • Fishery Engineering
  • Renewable Energy

Finally, 89 papers were submitted including 13 posters. Therefore two-parallel sessions were adopted to make all presentations in three days. We can recognize that the topics related to marine robotics are popular due to the number of submissions. Reflecting the frequent occurrence of disasters in Japan, many papers corresponding to the field of observatory and disaster mitigation were submitted.

Student Poster Competition

Fig. 8. Technical session held at room An301 and 302 on the first day (7 March).

The student posters were put on stands for the attendees to visit during the period of the conference in the exhibition hall “Foyer” where many attendees walked around for registration, exhibition and coffee breaks. There were 13 student posters. However, discussion with the poster presenters was performed on the internet using internet utility to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Poster sessions were held on the 7th and 8th of March online for one hour and fifteen minutes. During the poster sessions, the judge group visited every poster on the internet space, and listened to the authors and inspired them with the potential applications or insights of their work. Discussion through the internet was smoothly completed because the tool for communication was well-developed and there was much experience for discussion using internet tools for both students and the judges.

Fig. 9. Technical session held at the conventional hall “Haricot” on 8 March. Some researches were presented via internet and discussions between an online speaker and the audience in the venue was carried out smoothly.

After careful evaluation and discussion of their work, the first place was won by Mr. Ling-Ji Mu, National Taiwan University, for the paper entitled as “Development and Sea Trail of the Floating Kuroshio Turbine.”

The second place went to Mr. Yuki Sekimori, the University of Tokyo, on the paper “Observability analysis of acoustic positioning for multi-agent underwater vehicles” and Mr. Tien-En Hou, National Taiwan University, for the paper “Hydrodynamic Parameter Estimation of A 20 kW Floating Kuroshio Turbine Operating in Steady State.” There were two winners for the video prizes. Mr. Ling-Ji Mu, National Taiwan University, for the video “Development and Sea Trail of the Floating Kuroshio Turbine” and Mr. Jeremy Paul Coffeltm, University of Bremen, for the video “Marine Snow Simulation and Elimination in Video” won the prize.


Fig. 11. Student poster competition winners (the rear row and screen) and the judge group (the front row).

There were nine local and international companies and agents setting booths for promotion and two companies appeared on the internet. They are: OCEANWINGS, MARIMEX JAPAN, Shoshin, JAMSTEC, IDEA Consultants, Hydro Systems Development, SHIMADZU, FullDepth, NIPPON KAIYO, Nortek Japan, and Sonardyne Asia. The exhibition was held in the hall “Foyer” positioned next to the “Haricot.” Because the registration desks, student posters, and coffee breaks were positioned in the hall. many participants appeared in the hall and visited the exhibitions.

Fig. 12. Local and international exhibitors.

Before the closing of UT23, Professor Fausto Ferreira, IEEE OES VPWS summarized past workshops and symposia sponsored by OES in 2022, and announced OCEANS 2023 Limerick, 5-8 June and OCEANS 2023 Gulf Coast, 25-28 September. Then closing remarks were given by Professor Masanao Shinohara, General Co-Chair of UT23, ERI, the University of Tokyo, and Mr. Robert L. Wernli, General Co-Chair of UT23.

This meeting with the webinar option was the first experience for the executive committee and was different from both previous onsite events and online meetings. Although inexperienced situations appeared frequently during preparation, solutions could be found for the meeting. The executive committee expresses gratefulness for all persons and companies who cooperated in the preparation and management of UT23.  Through this experience, we believe that there are many advantages for a hybrid meeting. There was no barrier at the present for discussion between participants at the venue and in the network due to development of network tools. A participant who stays in a long distant or have not enough time can easily join a meeting and make a presentation using online tools. From these merits, there is a possibility that a hybrid meeting becomes standard meeting style in the future. Finally, the executive committee of UT23 appreciates your participation and is looking forward to seeing you at a future underwater meeting.