Now, cutting-edge underwater robots are being developed to maintain the infrastructure of deep-sea oil and gas industry. With the uses of these underwater robots, underwater maintenance can be safer, cheaper and less polluting.
Eelume, a snake-like underwater robot
Eelume is a six-meter-long, snake-like robot kitted out with sensors and a camera at each end. It can work at a docking station at depths up to 500 metres for six months without getting back to the surface.
Besides, the automated robot can travel up to 20 kilometres before returning to its station for a recharge. It can also swap out parts for different tasks, including tools to operate subsea valves, and cleaning brushes to remove marine growth and sediments.
How does it work?
Eelume can work autonomously on tasks assigned from a control room ashore. It can then send the video and data back to the control room. Its snake-like design allows this underwater robot to work in confined spaces and wriggle its body to stay in place in strong current. Furthermore, it can deploy whatever conditions on the surface of the ocean by docking under the sea.
Advantages of Eelume
Actually, many unmanned vehicles already able to carry out maintenance work at many deep-water wells and pipeline systems. However, people is responsible to bring these vehicles back to the offshore site on a fully crewed ship. They then need to operate these vehicles remotely from onboard the surface vessel. All of these processes can cost up to $100,000 per day, according to Pål Liljebäck, chief technology officer with Eelume Subsea Intervention.
Nevertheless, Eelume can be mobilized at any time to do inspections and intervention task. Therefore, this underwater robot can reduce the need for costly surface vessels. In addition, Eelume has environmental benefits. This is because it hardly emits any CO2, unlike the diesel-burning surface vessels that emit a lot of CO2.
Examples of underwater robots and drones
Hydrone-R is an underwater drone that can dive to 3,000 metres for construction and maintenance work. Moreover, Aquanaut is a subsea robot vehicle that can operate remotely or work autonomously. Then there is Seaeye Falcon vehicle that can carry out inspections in Chile’s fish farms.
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