Eelume has been granted 3 million NOK from Innovation Norway to develop untethered operation for their resident robot, Eely500. GCE Ocean Technology supported the feasibility study in 2020.
Untethered operations is a prerequisite to enable Eelume’s subsea robot to carry out the missions and collect the data which the customers need.
An important motivation for the development is to reduce the use of expensive surface vessels needed to carry out inspection and intervention subsea.
Another very important factor is that a resident underwater drone is available 24/7 and can start a mission immediately regardless of a surface ship and weather and wind conditions.
Pre-project Support from GCE Ocean Technology
Last year, Eelume received pre-project funding from GCE Ocean Technology to explore different platforms and solutions for developing and implementing autonomy.
The study was conducted with Skarv Technologies in Trondheim. The feasibility study has now resulted in a main innovation project with a total budget of close to 12 million NOK.
– We would like to thank GCE Ocean Technology for their support in the pre-project phase. This has been valuable to mature the concept and secure Innovation Norway funding, says Morten Bjerkholt, CEO Eelume.
GCE Ocean Technology has selected autonomy as one of the key RDI focus areas going forward.
The next deadline for applying for GCE Ocean Technology pre-project funding is 22 January 2021. Please contact us as an early stage to see how we can contribute.
The Goal is Autonomous Resident Underwater Drones
When put into operations, the drone must be able to dock, charge and “live” on the seabed for months and perform various types of inspection and intervention missions.
An autonomous subsea resident robot like Eelume’s has never been seen and demonstrated before. Having typically 8 thrusters and 1 or 2 joints, the Eely500 has unique manoeuvring and access capabilities. In addition, this gives the drone redundancy which allows it to operate even if faults occur on one or two thrusters.
The drone has built-in redundancy in the navigation and positioning system in the way that it can navigate based on a combination of inertial navigation, acoustic communication and optical navigation. This requires real-time processing of sensor data, advanced situation understanding and new methods for autonomous control.
It is for the development of system architecture with associated methods and algorithms for this autonomy, that Eelume has been awarded funding from Innovation Norway.
The aim is to take intelligent decisions depending on situations and revise the plan for the mission in real time without human intervention. This is far more demanding and places greater demands on the autonomy of the drone than what applies to today’s AUVs.
Advanced, robust autonomy will open up for new applications where subsea robots have not been used before due to large operating costs or technically demanding operations.
While Eelume’s robot, and other subsea resident robots, are being piloted and tested within oil & gas, the use of autonomous robots is highly relevant within other sectors such as offshore wind.
In particular for floating offshore wind farms far away from the coast, autonomous subsea robots are of relevance. The needs and usage are about the same within wind as within oil and gas; inspection of cables and pipelines, moorings and underwater structures.
The Eelume robot is planned to be piloted and tested in the Trondheim fjord and at the Åsgard field executing pipeline inspection and valve operations.
UTC is organised by UTF and GCE Ocean Technology, and is supported by SPE and FFU.