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Professional Experience

SMD: Innovation projects

I worked with SMD's Strategic Business Development Manager to enable and progress a portfolio of early stage innovation projects, including acting as a technical contact with external partners in academia and communicating complex topics to internal stakeholders.

It was particularly important to ensure that innovation projects were properly researched and managed at this time, as the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown had badly affected the market - this meant that internal resources were tighter, and the results of failure worse, than they would otherwise have been.

I led technical feasibility discussions with INESC TEC (the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering Technology and Science) – a non-profit research institution based in Portugal (within the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto) that bridges the gap between academia and commercial companies, and a former Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE entrant. SMD worked with INESC TEC on a system that produces a realtime 3D virtual environment and user interface for the area around the subsea vehicle.

I worked with the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) - a group based at Newcastle University aiming to address a market gap in the availability of data science skills through co-creation projects with organisations. SMD worked with NICD to specify requirements for a prototype cloud based solution for over the horizon control and condition monitoring for subsea vehicles over intermittent network connections.

I liaised with teams across SMD's Innovation group to discuss compatibility requirements between prototype systems, to make sure that everyone was aware of the various projects that were in the pipeline and how they would affect each other.

I worked with a partner organisation on user interface design for a newly developed detection system - collating feedback from clients and internal stakeholders on the existing (third party) software, discussing options for functionality and design requirements (including compatibility with existing market dominent competitors - reducing barriers to adoption by increasing familiarity and enabling drop-in system replacement), and prioritising the design changes to take into account trial deadlines and task importance.


The $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE was a global competition challenging teams to advance ocean technologies for rapid, unmanned and high-resolution ocean exploration and discovery.

XPrize creates international challenges to incentivise innovation. Teams were tasked with mapping the seafloor at up to a 4km depth with no human intervention. All equipment had to fit within a 40ft container.

TeamTao was the only British finalist - one of only four teams to make it to the competition area in Kalamata in Greece for the finals, out of 32 original entrants from 25 countries.

We were awarded the Moonshot Award at a ceremony in Monaco, celebrating our uniquely innovative approach to the problem. While most teams looked at conventional methods for seabed exploration, the TeamTao system has a novel method of pinpoint scanning using a swarm of units which greatly increases speed and flexibility.

Going forward, our design is well placed for the future commercial prospects of subsea exploration and mapping - scanning the 95% of our ocean which currently is entirely unexplored.

I led the software team for this project - not only writing much of the software for the autonomous Bathypelagic Excursion Modules (BEMs), which work together to scan the seabed, but also running the interview process for additional software engineers, chairing the interview panel, and managing software contractors - designing the software architecture and splitting it into work packets, along with requirements specs, and lists of tasks with priorities and deadlines.

As part of the software, I developed a series of web based user interfaces that were designed to work as well on a smartphone or tablet with a touchscreen as they did on big screens with keyboard and mouse. This included a UI on the AUV itself, one on the unmanned surface vessel that could communicate with multiple AUVs (which talked to the user to say which direction to travel in), and a mapping website accessible online, that showed all scan data on a map and allowed for point cloud analysis from a browser within minutes of the AUV resurfacing.

Our prize winning autonomous underwater robot is currently on display at the Science Museum in London, and can be seen as part of the 'Driverless: Who Is In Control?' exhibition (running until September 2020)

This project had a lot of media attention, from broadcasters like the BBC, and from various magazines such as ROV Planet


I was employed by SMD to work on a novel, modular, flexible control system that would be capable of running a number of different asset types using standard methods and protocols. The system was designed to allow for increasing levels of autonomy, that users can access remotely as necessary for fine grained control. Control intelligence was moved from a single controller on the surface accessing the asset remotely to a more distributed intelligence model, where individual subsystems are able to control low level aspects of themselves. The system capability allowed a step change from the existing technology, which was based on a PLC/SCADA system.

As part of this project I helped to analyse a number of use cases and developed a range of draft specifications. I created various demonstration user interface concepts, including one designed to be used on a big screen, one to be used on a handheld tablet, and one to be used with a 3D stereoscopic headset.

Tracerco: Veritas

Governments around the world chemically tag their fuels to prevent (amongst other things) illicit sales of subsidised fuel at standard prices. In the UK, the best known example of this is 'Red Diesel' - agricultural fuel, subsidiseed by the government, and only to be used in farm equipment. It's coloured red to make it easy to recognise - but the dye is easy to remove, and much cheap 'Red Diesel' is used as standard diesel.

Tracerco produces fuel markers which are nearly impossible to remove, to duplicate, or to detect. Traditionally a sample would need to be sent to a lab for complex analysis. Previous attempts to make a portable device were large, cumbersome, and difficult to use.

Veritas is a small, portable device that can quickly detect the presence of various different chemical tags at minute quantities, and can detect even small amounts of adulteration (mixing with unmarked fuels).

Tracerco: Hyperion

Hyperion is a family of level and density gauges for the oil and gas industry, used to measure the contents of pipes and vessels, usually in harsh and hazardous environments.

Hyperion T251

The T251 is a level / density gauge that is used in explosive atmospheres. Sales page for Level and Density (these haven't yet been updated for the new version)

Hyperion T254

The T254 is a Local Indicator module for the T251 that can show the current status information to users in the field. It works in the same harsh and hazardous environments as the T251, and can optionally be used at some distance from the T251 for user convenience. It can also be used for configuration.

Tracerco: Discovery

Named inventor on Discovery's patent

Publication no. GB2521765

Discovery is a novel subsea pipe scanner that is capable of giving a high resolution image of the structure and contents of a pipe from the outside, without requiring a stop in the flow and without requiring any removal of pipe coatings. It can be used at depths of over 3,000m (1,000m for Generation 1), and is designed for both pipe integrity (checking for damage of pipe walls) and flow assurance (checking for blockages). It has a very high resolution for identification of wall damage, and can detect gas pressure changes. It can easily cope with complex layouts such as pipe-in-pipe. We worked closely with two major oil company clients for the development of the two generations of Discovery.

Generation 1

Generation 2