Unmanned Systems Technology 038 l Skyeton Raybird-3 l Data storage l Sea-Kit X-Class USV l USVs insight l Spectronik PEM fuel cells l Blue White Robotics UVIO l Antennas l AUVSI Xponential Virtual 2021 report

21 other side of the world. While the ROVs are launched and recovered from a support vessel, the crews operating them no longer need to go to sea. The customer’s main goal is to reduce operational costs, Bernard explains, largely by eliminating the need for travel and making it possible for an operator to work with a vehicle under the Baltic Sea one day and another deep in the Pacific the next day without having to leave their office or even their home – a flexibility that has obviously gained momentum during the Covid pandemic. VITEC is also doing the same kind of thing for the broadcast industry, which is making increasing use of remotely operated cameras to cover major sporting events, he notes. Really remote operation In the ROV application, the vehicles will be connected to the support ship by cable; VITEC’s encoders are embedded in the company’s equipment aboard the ship, compressing the imagery before it is transmitted over the satellite link. Bernard stresses that the company eventually wants to integrate the encoders into the ROVs themselves, but explains that they will probably have to wait for them to be equipped with a new generation of underwater cameras. The benefits of doing that, he explains, are centred on the use of thinner, more flexible and longer cables between ROV support ships, and perhaps their eventual elimination. Cables that transmit even SD video have to be relatively thick and suffer loss of signal over relatively short distances, while compressed, encoded Internet Protocol video can be moved much further without loss over much thinner cables, even in HD format. In some applications, it may also prove possible to transmit HD imagery over acoustic links. It is still early days for this system, which is at the proof-of-concept stage or a little beyond, and the encoding technology has to be integrated into the customer’s ecosystem. Unmanned Systems Technology | June/July 2021 Born in 1979 in France, Richard Bernard was inspired to pursue an engineering career by his father, a car mechanic who often brought work home with him, so he learned the workings of engines at the kitchen table. “When I was young, I really liked to work with him on motors and things like that. I think all technological matters interested me. It was a choice early on to become an engineer to design and construct things.” At lycee (a school that takes pupils from 15 to 17), he found himself drawn to the subjects that are foundational to engineering. “My favourite subject was physics. Mathematics was OK, but I saw it more as a support for the physics.” Although he knew he wanted to be an engineer, initially he didn’t know what kind but began working on microelectronics and computers in his spare time. He then spent an intense period at a preparatory school (ecole preparatoire) training for the test that would get him into the ESIEE in Paris, which is one of France’s ‘grandes ecoles’ and is focused on technological innovation. His degree is in electronics with a specialisation in microelectronics and MEMS, and involved designing chips including ASICs. “I was not so excited about that because what I like is to see what I am doing, and when you are working on an ASIC you don’t see much – you can only see it through a microscope.” With his degree under his belt, he went on to take two lengthy internships with major companies in microelectronics and aerospace. The first was Texas Instruments, where he learned about RFICs and FPGAs, and became deeply involved in their testing and evaluation. “That was really interesting, although it was still not visual enough for me. The team was very good and my supervisor was very important for me,” he says. “That experience also proved very helpful when I jointed VITEC.” His second internship was at Airbus, where he worked on the A380 airliner programme. ‘It’s finished now, but at the time it was an incredible project,” he says. “As an intern I was doing my small piece of this huge baby, and I was in charge of designing the logic for the throttle management for the engines. “That was very, very interesting, but what I didn’t like so much was that on such a large project you are obviously always dealing with a really tiny piece of the whole picture, so it is very hard to get a sense of what’s going on. It’s frustrating to have such a small piece, but it was a very good experience to be part of such a large team making something that big fly.” He joined VITEC in 2003, where he began by designing video capture and compression systems for medical and broadcast applications; he is now the company’s senior product manager, reporting to VITEC’s founder and CEO Philippe Wetzel. Continuing his professional education, he earned a degree in project management and business engineering at the Centre National des Arts et Metiers between 2005 and 2007. Richard Bernard