Request for Proposal
Status: RFP is Closed

Underwater Optical Wireless Communication Technology

Request Number
Due Date
Mar 8
Program Manager

Joint/contract development, equipment/solution supply


Phase 1: Feasibility evaluation and partner selection (6 months)
Phase 2:Technology development
(Field test / validation within 3 years after phase 1)


Necessary budget for technology development is to be allocated. Details to be negotiated based on proposed technologies.


How to  Apply
Click on "Respond", complete the form to the extent possible, and submit along with other attachment files available. 
After creating your account for NineSights, your draft will be automatically saved and you can resume later from "Control Center". Please note you do not submit confidential information at this process.
This request for proposals in PDF format is available below, "Attachments" area.


If you have any questions or request, please feel free to contact us at: 

RFP was closed on
Mar 2019

RFP Title


Underwater Optical Wireless Communication Technology
RFP Description

NineSigma, commissioned by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (the "Client"), seeks underwater optical wireless communication technology (UOWCT) embeddable in subsea inspection and maintenance robot.


The Client aims at establishing automatic and labor-saving inspection system of subsea facilities by introducing robots. Currently, underwater robots are navigated and controlled by transmitting signals, via cables, from the ships. This wire communication method limits operating area of robots and can be susceptible to troubles, such as cable tangling and destabilization of robotic performance by the influence of tidal currents. In addition, acoustic communication is utilized for detecting locations of robots, but its transmission speed and quality are not competent.


Optical wireless communication technology has potential for high-speed and high-capacity communication under the sea, therefore the Client expects it can improve underwater operation and control of robots dramatically. By building medium- to long-term partnership with organizations that possess these technologies, the Client aims to establish embeddable wireless communication technology between robots under the sea as their initial target.


Furthermore, establishment of communication technology capable of navigation signal transmission to underwater robots from an onshore / offshore base (i.e. from a ship) is their ultimate target.

Proposals from promising organizations who are willing to establish above technology, operable under the sea with complex physio-chemical biological systems, with the Client are highly welcome.

Key Success Criteria

Development goal of UOWCT

  • Capable of navigation signal transmission between robots under the sea
    • Transmission rate: ≥100 Mbit/s (Ultimate goal: ≥ several hundred Mbps)
    • Transmission distance: ≥100 m
  • Embeddable system device size and weight in underwater robots; its size is less than 1x1x1 m
  • Applicable system device to both underwater communications and sea-(land-)to-underwater communication is preferable.

Working environment

  • UOWCT is installed to robots working at an offshore wind farm built on Japan's Pacific coast
    • Water depth: ≤ approx. 200 m
    • Underwater visibility: approx. 1 m
Items to be Submitted


Underwater or land-to-water communications are required in several situations, such as offshore exploration, subsea equipment inspection, etc. At present, wire communication: transmitting signals via cables, is a mainstream technology for underwater robot navigation. However, robot navigation under wire communication is inconvenient because of operating area limitation or limit of the number of operating robots, since multiple-robots operation is not allowed in one base area to avoid cable tangling.


The Client aims to build offshore wind farms, thus inspection and maintenance by multiple underwater robots are required for wind farm operation. For that reason, establishment of UOWCT is one of the essential factors to establish robot-based underwater inspection and maintenance for offshore wind farms.


Either acoustic or electromagnetic wave propagate in underwater wireless communication systems for transferring signals. Acoustic communication is already in practical use because of long transmission distance, but transmission speed and quality are not competent. As for electromagnetic wave, optical communication has been attracting attention for its low attenuation rate. In the past, lack of promising optical devices has prevented optical communication from being put to practical use. With the commercialization of LED: high-output, high-responsiveness and small, there has been rising momentum in efforts to establish UOWCT.


In the hope of advancement of UOWCT and accelerated research and development activities, the Client has issued this open request to find partners all over the world.


Anticipated Project Process

After the submission due date, the client will review all submitted proposals. NineSigma will send the review results to each proposer 6-8 weeks after the due date. The client possibly asks clarifying questions before selecting the most suitable candidates for collaboration. The client will select best candidates through evaluations. During the selection process, the client may execute NDA with selected respondents, seek further information disclosure, and discuss specific development targets or potential opportunities.

The client will execute necessary agreements with the selected respondents and move to the advanced development phase. Specifics of any collaboration will be determined through consultation with the concerned parties.


Notes on Response

Proposal shall have clear points and should not include confidential information. Supplemental files may be submitted in addition to the proposal.


Response evaluation

The client will evaluate all responses with the following criteria.

  • Overall scientific and technical merit
  • Approach to proof of concept or performance
  • Economic potential of concept
  • Realism of the proposed plan (action items, timeline, roles, deliverables, cost estimation)
  • Potential for proprietary position
  • Respondents’ capability and related experiences
Preferred Collaboration Types
Area of Interest