Subsea 7 builds autonomous inspection vechile
Posted: 4 May 2011
Subsea 7 has completed the design and build of the first
commercial AIV, a technology which has the potential to revolutionise Life-of-Field
"We are delighted with the success of the commercialisation programme to date for what
represents a significant technological advance in the area of subsea remote
inspection and intervention," said Neil Milne, Subsea 7’s Vice President - Life-of-Field Services.
"With the arrival of the AIV, subsea structures such as
manifolds, wellheads and risers will be able to be inspected by this tetherless
technology, significantly increasing flexibility and efficiencies throughout the life-offield
cycle. Following completion of extensive trials and further development over
the coming months, we look forward to bringing the first commercial AIV into
operations towards the end of 2011."
Subsea 7 has an ambitious plan to develop a series of Autonomous Inspection
Vehicles (AIV), initially capable of general visual inspection, through to fully capable
work-class sized intervention vehicles.
A combined project team comprising
hardware developers and operational personnel from Subsea 7 and Seebyte, a
Scottish based software developer for the autonomous robotics market, has been
working together to deliver the first vehicle.
The design and build of the vehicle is complete and successful progress through inwater
trialling and commissioning phase is underway. Following completion of
extensive in-water testing and capability development, the first commercial AIV is
expected to be available in late 2011.
Through the development process, many technical challenges have been overcome,
the shape of the vehicle has changed from the original design concept due to the
significant work done using the latest Computational Fluid Dynamics Modelling to
optimise the vehicle’s shape with regard to stability and manoeuvrability, while
conserving the onboard power resources.
The vehicle is fully autonomous and can operate for a 24-hour period on a single
charge of its lithium-ion batteries, which are housed in pressure vessels within the
hull. These batteries have been specifically designed for the vehicle and provide a
more cost-effective solution to pressure tolerant batteries, with a lower capital cost
and much improved cycle lives.
The sensor package has been developed to cover the requirements of general
visual inspection; it comprises the latest sonar technology coupled with high quality
video cameras and low power LED lighting.
A significant software integration and development project has been running in
parallel with the hardware development and this too has used the most advanced
techniques to manage, debug and control the development.