A new underwater vehicle concept has been created by Saab Seaeye that can go places and undertake tasks where ROV deployment is difficult or impossible.
Called Sabertooth, the hybrid vehicle combines the technologies of both AUV and ROV vehicles into a single unified resource.
For operators it offers the range and manoeuvrability of an AUV, yet with the tooling capability of a light-work ROV.
The concept comes from a reconfiguration of Saab's hovering AUV, built for defence operations, to one suited to the oil and gas industry using ROV technology proven in that sector but with the same exceptional stability proven for the defence application.
For subsea operators, the Sabertooth offers a choice of three operational modes:
- autonomous roaming;
- attached fibre-optic cable; or
- umbilical carrying power and communications.
It has an excursion range of 20 to 40km, depth rated option to 3,000 metres, and can embark on either long range programmable missions, or under operator control around set targets, with obstacle avoidance and precise manoeuvrability for safe and easy access, including working inside complex structures.
Sabertooth combines AUV and ROV technologies into one unifi ed resourceIndeed, where space is limited, the Sabertooth's 360 degree manoeuvrability means it can orientate itself into any position − even directly up, or down – from where it can attend to its light work or inspection task.
And in places where access is seasonally restricted, it can remain for a year at an isolated location, in resident mode, at its docking station, ready to be launched on task as needed, under the remote guidance of an operator.
At the docking station tooling packs can be stored ready for use; its batteries re-charged, data and video downloaded and fresh instructions uploaded.
The whole hybrid AUV/ROV concept is expected to bring significant savings in operating costs as a vehicle like Sabertooth is easily deployed from a platform, shore-base, or small low cost vessel.
Managing director, Dave Grant, sees the concept as offering an important new technological resource to the oil and gas industry and the renewable energy market where there is a growing need for inspection and intervention as activity moves further subsea.
He says: "Sabertooth is the first of a new range of deep water, long-range, hovering hybrid vehicles that will solve current operational problems and open up new cost effective solutions for survey, inspection, light work and intervention."
Source: Subsea UK Newsletter September 2011