Shell Teams With Nauticus To Further Autonomous Subsea Operations
Trials of the robotics company’s Hydronaut and Aquanaut system are expected in the third quarter of 2022 after the companies conducted a successful feasibility study.
Nauticus Robotics, a Houston-area developer of subsea and surface robotic services using autonomy software, has entered into an agreement with Shell to advance to the qualification phase for a more efficient means of acquiring subsea integrity data using Nauticus’ Aquanaut and Hydronaut robotic platforms.
An initial feasibility study for the phase-gated project was recently completed, and the team now moves onto the operational qualification phase, which focuses on remote operations of the robotic duo using supervised autonomy and tool control using Nauticus’ acoustic communication networking technology. The collaboration is targeting the preliminary work required for an offshore pilot project.
“Working with a leading company such as Shell marks an exciting milestone for Nauticus, and this collaboration further validates the superior capabilities and extensive use cases of our robots across the energy sector,” said Todd Newell, senior vice president of business development at Nauticus. “Implementing our supervised autonomous method — one that has proven more robust and dynamic than most of its kind — is expected to provide our partner and future customers more than 50% cost savings compared to today’s methods of operation.”
This collaboration will use Nauticus’ flagship and fully electric subsea robot, Aquanaut, which is deployed from Nauticus’ small surface vessel, Hydronaut. Hydronaut is used for the transport, recharge, and communication for Aquanaut, among other tasks. Together, the robotic pair will function as a unified system for conducting subsea work. Their inherent autonomous architectures will allow a transition to more autonomous operations than conventional solutions.
“An exciting aspect of this project is the opportunity to combine the strengths of advanced inspection tooling with the advanced marine robotic capabilities developed by Nauticus Robotics,” said Ross Doak, deepwater robotics engineer of Shell’s robotics team. “This project aims to fundamentally improve how we collect subsea facility data, through the combination of AUV-native tooling design, supervised autonomy, and recent improvements in remote communications.”