Advances Aim for Continuous Inspection and Monitoring of Underwater Assets

The Swiss-based company Hydromea announced advances in underwater optical modem technology and development of an underwater monitoring system capable of daily data sweeps remotely.

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Hydromea's underwater robot, EXRAY, performs an inspection in a tank.
Source: Hydromea

Scotland-based remote technology company, Air Control Entech, announced it has received class approval from DNV for Hydromea's autonomous underwater inspection robot. EXRAY, known for its compact size, high maneuverability, and real-time data transmission capabilities, allows certified inspections of flooded spaces at offshore floating platforms.

Prompted by a customer’s upcoming Mariana Trench expedition, Hydromea has received validation for its underwater optical modems, LUMA X-UV. The modems which are certified at 1,200 bar of pressure, equivalent to a water depth of 12000 m, allow them to explore some of the deepest points on Earth including the Mariana Trench.

The Mariana Trench, located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 124 miles east of the Mariana Islands, is the deepest oceanic trench on Earth with a maximum known water depth of 10994 m and extreme pressure reaching 1,100 bar. "The compact form factor of our LUMA X modems, comparable to a soda can, allows for effortless integration into any underwater equipment. We eagerly anticipate witnessing our Swiss-made LUMA modems helping the scientists to uncover secrets of Mariana Trench soon,” Hydromea CEO Igor Martin shared in a recent press release.

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EXRAY robot on an industrial site.
Source: Hydromea

Hydromea has also partnered with Unplugged, a Norwegian provider of inductive charging and data transfer technology, to develop a resident underwater drone system for continuous inspection and monitoring of underwater assets. Backed by over $2 million in funding, the project is expected to take 30 months to complete.

The drone system will have the capability to stay underwater for months at a time and perform daily data sweeps which provide up-to-date comprehensive condition monitoring of operations remotely.

“With the ongoing move to automation of offshore energy operations and projected double-digit annual growth rate of the blue ocean economy in the offshore renewables, aquaculture, and kelp farming market sectors, the demand for condition monitoring of the underwater assets will explode over the next decade.

"Building a digital twin of an asset underwater is currently close to impossible. The incumbent technologies are largely developed around defense and offshore oil and gas sectors that can afford the size and cost of complex systems. However, the economics of the upcoming emerging sectors are such that they require robust, lower-cost, and miniaturized continuous monitoring solutions,” Martin said.

He added that Hydromea will combine its expertise in portable robotics and underwater communication with Unplugged’s expertise in underwater induction technology.