Two globally-leading companies in their own respective fields, Subsea 7 and SeeByte, have joined forces to develop the next generation of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for the offshore oil and gas industry.
The project will see the development of the first truly autonomous vehicle capable of both inspection and light intervention in an offshore environment.
SeeByte Ltd, the cutting-edge software company providing solutions for improved awareness and robot autonomy, and Subsea 7, one of the world's leading subsea engineering, construction and technology companies, aim to provide the offshore oil and gas industry with a new concept of autonomous inspection and intervention vehicle[s]. The vehicle, deployed from a host facility, will be capable of inspecting risers, pipelines, moorings and other structures and general visual inspection. Docking, data exchange and light intervention activities will also be inherent features of the vehicle design.
The project will be executed in collaboration with BP and Chevron, two of the world's leading energy companies. The multi-year project will entail building the prototype vehicle, carrying out initial onshore trials and then full offshore operation trials.
This new generation of AUV[s] will significantly change the way in which offshore inspection and intervention activities are carried out and has the potential to dramatically reduce costs by removing the need for a dedicated support vessel.
"The project will benefit from SeeByte's experience in automating the control process of underwater vehicles. This ranges from SeeTrack Offshore, our current offering to the ROV industry, a true Dynamic Positioning system that simplifies the ROV control process and helps save on training and operational costs, to our experience in previous AUV development programmes, including the world record breaking Autotracker programme that demonstrated autonomous pipeline inspection over 22 km and was carried out in partnership with Subsea 7 and BP", said Dr. Ioseba Tena, Sales & Marketing Manager of SeeByte.
"Our involvement in this programme results from Subsea 7's ambition to be the Subsea Partner of Choice in the subsea engineering, construction and technology sector and is underpinned by our reputation as a pioneer of ROV and remote intervention technology. In order to meet our customers' evolving needs, Subsea 7 is committed to developing new cost-effective solutions to meet the challenges of subsea oil and gas field development and maintenance activities in increasingly deep water and remote locations. We believe that our new generation of AUV being developed with SeeByte and with the backing of BP and Chevron, will be a key component of this strategy." said John Mair Global Technology Manager for Subsea 7.
"BP has long supported the development of advanced AUV technology and we believe the development of this prototype autonomous inspection/intervention vehicle will be a key next step," said David Saul, BP, Senior Subsea Engineer.
"Successful development will allow us to apply the technology across a far wider range of challenging subsea applications, including deep water subsea process, bringing both significant operational benefits and cost reductions."
"This collaboration seeks to accelerate the efficient use of autonomous vehicle technology for offshore operations. It represents a fresh approach to fostering innovation in the offshore industry," said Alexis Denz, Subsea Engineer for Chevron. "Our vision is that this technology will meet our future inspection and intervention requirements and eventually reduce the need for intervention vessels for routine inspection and intervention work."