Robotics/unmanned systems

Aker BP and DeepOcean Complete Autonomous Inspection Trials

As part of a 10-day inspection campaign, the companies inspected subsea trees and other infrastructure at the Alvheim field on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Source: DeepOcean

Ocean services provider DeepOcean and Aker BP have successfully completed subsea trials with an autonomous inspection drone (AID) at the Aker BP-operated Alvheim field in the central North Sea.

“While testing of autonomous technology is exciting on its own, our primary purpose was to find out if subsea inspection can be conducted more cost-efficiently and with better and more precise data quality with this new technology and associated methods,” said Jarle Marius Solland, operations manager at Aker BP. “The conclusion is definitely yes.”

The AID project is a strategic partnership between DeepOcean, Argus Remote systems, and Vaarst, where a system has been developed with industry guidance, support, and funding from Aker BP to bring a platform to market.

10-Day Inspection Campaign
As part of a 10-day inspection campaign, Aker BP and DeepOcean inspected subsea trees and other subsea infrastructure at the Alvheim field on the Norwegian continental shelf.

“The first inspection trial was highly encouraging. Based on this, we believe we can inspect the specific subsea infrastructure at Alvheim noticeably faster next year,” said Kristoffer Johansen, technology manager at DeepOcean.

The subsea inspection missions were planned by inspection personnel from DeepOcean. The mission plans were subsequently transferred from the digital mission planner by an application programming interface into the AID. This input can come from both onshore and offshore.

The AID was mobilized on the DeepOcean-operated subsea inspection, maintenance, and repair and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) support vessel Edda Fauna, replacing the existing observation class ROV. The mission control was supervised both locally from Edda Fauna and remotely from Remota’s remote operations center in Haugesund, Norway.

“The combination of autonomous subsea inspections and remotely operated mission control is obviously a highly attractive proposition for operators as it means substantial reductions in operating costs, emissions, and HSE [health, safety, and environment] risk,” said Terje Nordeide, project manager at DeepOcean. “The stability of the system was very impressive under mission control.”

High Quality Data Collection
The AID is based on a Rover MK2 ROV from Argus Remote Systems, with upgraded hardware and software packages. Argus is responsible for the AID platform and navigation algorithm. DeepOcean is responsible for the digital twin platform, mission planner software, and live view of the AID in operation, while Vaarst is responsible for machine vision camera Subslam 2x for autonomous navigation and data collection.

The inspection data from the AID is streamed onshore, and the position of the vehicle is continuously being streamed back into the digital twin to ensure high data quality and increase situational awareness.

“For this first trial, we experienced more stable flying with the AID, including very stable navigation during inspections. As a result, the collected data used for post-processing of 3D models shows extraordinarily high quality,” Johansen said.

The AID measures 1.25×0.85×0.77 m and weighs 320 kg in air and can operate in water depths down to 3000 m. It can fly in dynamic positioning mode and has both station-keeping and remote control functionalities.

DeepOcean has further developed the AID’s capabilities, demonstrating subsea metrology on demand and improved efficiency.