Page 24: of Offshore Engineer Magazine (Jan/Feb 2018)

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A model of Subsea 7’s AIV. autonomously for over 40 years because but it also enables recharging and data

Air of the limitations of underwater commu- download/upload for subsea resident The same innovations are happening nication (the boundaries of which today vehicles. in unmanned aerial vehicles, in terms are being chipped away). “Autonomy has There have been projects, such as, the of increasing autonomy and sensor long been part of what marine robotics EU ALIVE, led by Cybernetics, which payload. Initially, drones have been have been about,” he says, highlighting worked on docking station technology. manually ? own to gather images as part the likes of the Remus AUV, introduced However, there’s also been work done of inspection work. Now the focus is in 1990. on whether a vehicle could dock, and on automated ? ight and being able to

However, systems with more func- then perform pre-programmed tasks extend the inspection capabilities. tionality are now emerging, some such as turning a valve or adapt to the William Jackson, a researcher at because of years of development work, situation, using machine learning. Strathclyde University, UK, says drones such as Subsea 7’s AIV (autonomous The Pandora EU AUV project has also can both build or use an existing CAD inspection vehicle), which has drawn investigated how to teach a robot to turn model to detect changes in a structure on research at Heriot-Watt and spun out a valve. There has also been research over time, for example an offshore wind unmanned vehicle software specialists done to stabilize the end of a manipula- turbine blade. The drone would be able

SeeByte. The AIV has been perform- tor arm, instead of trying to stabilize the to autonomously navigate around the ing subsea inspections for Shell in vehicle, Lane says. blade, using the blade as its reference. the North Sea, untethered, Lane says. The University of Girona, in Spain, For larger areas, drones could work in

It’s able to locate itself and can go to (also involved in Pandora) focused its an array, with the images stacked into a 3000m water depth, venture on 40km research on auto-learning, turning of a high-resolution image. excursions and has 24-hour dive time, valve, and reaction to an accident in its But, sensor payloads are going further. depending on the mission. Girona 500 project. Drones have already been ? own inside “Marine robotics can currently “We can do these things, the next vessel tanks. Earlier this year, Texo Drone do mapping and tracking very well, phase is to make it robust so we can Survey and Inspection (UKCS), a divi- inspecting pipelines over quite long take it offshore. The hard part is sion of Texo DSI, said it had deployed distances, but it’s scarier when you try cognition,” i.e. vehicles being able to the world’s ? rst UT (ultrasonic thickness to dock something,” he says. Having recognize what they’re looking at, map testing) from a UAV. This was just part vehicles that can dock would make and navigate unmapped areas on the of a pilot at a test site, but would extend tasks easier, as they’d be stationary, ? y, says Lane. drone inspection capability. Texo says

January 2018 | OE 26 024_OE0118_EPIC1_Robotics.indd 26 12/27/17 4:07 PM

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