March 2019 OES Beacon

Breaking the Surface—International Interdisciplinary Field-Training for Experts, End-Users and Students

Zoran Vukić, Nikola Mišković, Antonio Vasilijević, Ivana Mikolić. BtS point of contact:

BtS ( was approved as an OES Initiative Activity on March 2019. Welcome to OES!

Underwater systems and technologies are used by various disciplines, and designers of these systems should be aware of end-user needs. The idea of joining together various disciplines came naturally as a way of how to appease these needs of cross fertilization among various disciplines. It was decided that the best way to accommodate different needs of experts in the field, end-users, designers/engineers, and students is to offer a venue where all can join and exchange information about their particular know-how. Thus, the international interdisciplinary field-training “Breaking the Surface” (BtS) was proposed with four program tracks: Marine robotics (MAROB); Marine biology and Marine nature protection (MARBIO); Maritime security, naval and coast guard operations (MARSEC); and Maritime, nautical and ship archaeology (MARCH). From time to time we also introduce new speakers from areas such as marine geology (MARGEO), oceanology (OCEAN), oceanography (GRAPH), and others.

EvoLogics preparation for demo of USV SONOBOT and subsea gliders (manta rays) at BtS2017.

BtS field trainings are organized by the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing—Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technologies (, and NGO Center for Underwater Systems and Technologies ( BtS has evolved from a small field training gathering of some 40 participants in 2009 to a world-recognized event that today brings together around 200 participants from all around the globe. As a consequence of thorough analysis of every BtS, the structure, the content and scope changed over the years resulting in an event with smooth and well accepted activities by participants, but from the very beginning the duration of the field training was set to one week and remained unchanged ever since. The first five workshops were held in Murter (island Murter), Croatia. Since 2014, BtS changed location to Biograd na Moru, Croatia. More about all ten field-trainings can be found at Today we can affirm that the BtS became a brand with high appreciation among all those that participated. Visibility of this event improved over the years and the number of participants, especially students, increased each year. Statistics over 10 years gives: 1300 participants from 30 countries, 201 lectures, 56 companies, 26 tutorials, 25 demonstrations, 41 vehicles, 16 project presentations.

Preparation of the H2020 project SUBCULTRON demo with aPads (H2OmniX USVs) and aMussels at BtS2018.

Present structure of the BtS consists of plenary type lectures by leading experts in the field (~25-30), demo presentations of research results of various R&D projects (~3), demo presentations of commercial products by various companies (~4), tutorials with specific topics (~4), and social events (~6). Companies that has been with us at BtS several times and presented their products at sea were: EvoLogics, Hydroid-Kongsberg, BluePrint Subsea, Blueye Robotics, Video Ray Llc, L3 Ocean Server, Oceanscan-Marine systems and technology Lda., Sonardyne (Aberdeen, Scotland, UK).

Our BtS partners from the research community are among the best in Europe. We can mention only few of them here: CNR-ISSIA (Genoa, Italy), NTNU-AMOS (Trondheim, Norway), IFREMER (Toulouse, France), NATO-CMRE (LaSpezia, Italy), University of Limerick—MaREI (Limerick, Ireland), University of Girona—Underwater vision and robotics (Girona, Spain), Heriot-Watt University—Ocean Systems Laboratory (Edinburg, Scotland, UK), ISME (Genoa, Italy), IST-ISR (Lisbon, Portugal), University of Porto—LSTS (Porto, Portugal), and others.

BtS field-trainings are not only popular because of bringing high quality activities, but also by providing enough time for participants to discuss, exchange ideas, and start preparing joint research proposals as well as a social programme that deepens interaction and friendship.