The BP-sponsored trials successfully demonstrated the integration of the AutoTracker software to two-man-portable AUVs which are pre-programmed on the surface to carry out specific missions underwater, navigating using sonar and other sensors. Two-man-portable AUVs can be launched from vessels or shore by two personnel without the need for specialist cranes or lifting equipment. SeeByte was able to demonstrate greater flexibility and significant cost savings over current inspection technologies because the AUVs operated without the need for umbilical connections to a dedicated surface support vessel and could be launched from vessels of convenience or the shore. The operations ran along Talisman's oil pipeline running along Water Sound. The distance covered by the inspection in the longest uninterrupted line was 10km, which is a new world record for a two-man-portable AUV.
SeeByte developed the Autotracker module as part of the SeeTrack Offshore family. The Autotracker module paints a picture of the seabed and interprets that picture so that it can instruct the AUV to maintain a constant offset from the pipeline. The module is capable of accurately tracking a single pipeline amongst multiple pipelines and on varied terrains. In addition, Autotracker includes advanced search routines that enable it to recover the pipeline track after an unexpected pipeline burial. SeeByte Ltd had successfully completed a pipeline inspection in 2006 using a larger AUV and SeeByte's its SeeTrack Offshore system with its Autotracker module to inspect subsea pipelines running from Sullom Voe to the Clair and Magnus fields. This time the technology has been demonstrate with smaller AUVs that require much lower logistics.
Visitors, including representatives from leading oil operators and contractors, were invited to a demonstration day to observe the launch of the vehicle and the pipeline tracking using the module in Orkney.
Ioseba Tena, Sales and Marketing Manager for SeeByte: "SeeTrack Offshore offers true Dynamic Positioning to unmanned underwater vehicles. The Autotracker module has now been integrated to work with both the GAVIA and REMUS vehicles. The low logistics associated with an AUV clearly highlight the potential of the technology to operators and contractors: AUV pipeline inspections provide high quality data for a fraction of the price of ROV operations. With Autotracker we are happy to offer yet another state-of-the-art solution to the market."