Using Laser Scanning for Next Generation Subsea Metrology

Subsea technology companies demonstrated a new underwater surveying technique that could significantly shorten the time needed to map underwater structures and offshore sites. The event was organized by DOF Subsea to showcase the capabilities of dynamic mobile mapping. The new technique uses a 3D laser scanner fitted to an ROV to create highly detailed, point cloud images of subsea assets and environments. By combining the 3D laser data with precise underwater acoustic and inertial navigation information, it is now possible to generate centimeter resolution engineering models from which accurate measurements can be instantaneously and repeatably captured. In conventional marine construction support terminology, metrology is the work done by surveyors and ROV to acquire various subsea measurements, typically between flanges on separate pieces of subsea infrastructure. These measurements allow precise fabrication of subsea jumpers and spool-pieces. Traditionally the vessel time to acquire the measurement data can take between six and eight…

Aquabotix to List on Australian Stock Exchange

The listing of US-based Aquabotix makes it one of the few pure-play publicly-listed underwater drone companies. The company makes portable underwater vehicles, which it says are used by commercial, educational, industrial, government, military and recreational applications and by anyone looking to explore under water. According to company filings, since 2011, Aquabotix has sold 840 units in over 45 countries and has customers such as Australia’s Broadspectrum, various US defense forces and government departments, BP, Shell and ConEdison. http://www.afr.com/technology/usbased-underwater-drone-startup-aquabotix-to-list-on-asx-20170314-guya55

Plucking Minerals from the Seabed is Back on the Agenda

Big companies have looked into the idea of mining the ocean floor since the 1960s and 1970s. They proved the principle by collecting hundreds of tonnes of manganese nodules—potato-sized mineral. At first sight, these nodules are attractive targets for mining because, besides manganese, they are rich in cobalt, copper and nickel. As a commercial proposition, though, the idea never caught on. Working underwater proved too expensive and prospectors discovered new mines on dry land. Worries about shortages went away, and ocean mining returned whence it had come, to the pages of science-fiction novels. But now it is coming back. https://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21717351-fruits-de-mer-plucking-minerals-seabed-back-agenda?fsrc=scn/tw/te/rfd/pe

DoD Eyes $3 Billion Investment for Underwater Drone Development

    The Defense Department plans to invest up to $3 billion in funds in an effort to build and field unmanned underwater vehicles designed to perform surveillance operations, the Washington Post reported. Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, head of the Office of Naval Research, said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies-hosted conference that ONR plans to develop an “Eisenhower highway network” of UUVs that will work to map the ocean floor and “go out for decades at a time.” Christian Davenport writes the U.S. Navy also plans to establish underwater stations designed to allow undersea drones to recharge. Frank Herr, head of the ONR’s ocean battlespace sensing department, told the publication that such undersea communication and energy outposts will serve as a “place where you can gas up or charge your underwater vehicles, transfer data and maybe store some data.” The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency also plans to…

Autonomous Vehicles to Reduce Windfarm Costs

A U.K. government grant of £4 million will be used to create remote inspection and repair technologies for offshore wind farms using robotics and autonomous systems. These will be used to inspect the condition of subsea power cables, identify problems early and ultimately, and extend their lifespan. The U.K. government has set ambitious decarbonization targets, increasing the present 5GW generated by offshore wind farms to 40GW by 2050. The cost of achieving these targets has, until now, focused on the capital outlay for wind turbines, but budgets have largely ignored the operation and maintenance of wind farm assets, including subsea cabling. “By integrating technologies, such as autonomous underwater vehicles and advanced sonar technology, we will gain a new insight into the condition of these subsea assets,” said Dr. David Flynn, director of the Smart Systems Group at Heriot-Watt University. “The U.K. is leading the world in the development of remote…

BG Group & the FlatFish AUV

BG Group’s FlatFish AUV project promises to bring solutions to deepwater infrastructure inspection challenges. The development of AUVs capable of being launched from FPSOs or actually being docked at the seafloor next to the subsea systems has been an industry goal for some years and offers a solution to two major problems: making deepwater subsea inspection become a simple task and decreasing the related costs. The FlatFish project concept was created by BG Brasil, a subsidiary of Shell, with Bremen, Germany-based DFKI, and Brazilian organizations SENAI-Cimatec and EMBRAPII as partners in the project. https://www.marinetechnologynews.com/news/group-flatfish-543315

Industry M&A – Boeing Acquires Liquid Robotics

Boeing has acquired Liquid Robotics, its teammate in a years-long effort to create surfboard-sized robots that can use wave power to roam the seas. The acquisition is expected to help Boeing create military communication networks that can transmit information autonomously from the sea to satellites via Sensor Hosting Autonomous Remote Craft, or SHARCs. Liquid Robotics was founded in 2007 and currently has about 100 employees in California and Hawaii. Just as the fixed-wing ScanEagle drones can gather and transmit data while they’re airborne, SHARCs can monitor maritime operations and send the information back via satellite to their handlers. Boeing also makes a 50-ton underwater robot called Echo Voyager that can explore the deep sea for six months at a time, as well as two smaller unmanned undersea vehicles. The SHARCs can serve as communication relays for those undersea robots. https://www.geekwire.com/2016/boeing-buys-liquid-robotics-sharc/

Subsea LiDAR used for 3D Printing

3D subsea laser scanning can offer significant cost and efficiency advantages in areas such as asset inspection and asset decommissioning. In one example, Fugro contracted 3D at Depth for its underwater 3D data collection utilizing subsea LiDAR scanning. Fugro was asked to excavate, clean, measure and identify the subsea wellheads in order to design an appropriate ‘hot tap’ connector and to assess feasible options for abandonment. However, detailed information about the wellheads was scarce, as their age limited availability of measurements, manufacture, and other specifications. In this case, a fully accurate, full-sized physical model of a well part was 3D printed using the subsea LiDAR data. In World First, LiDAR Scanning and a 3D Printed Part Help Subsea Well Reach Final Abandoned Status  

What Drones did for the Sky, Robot Subs are About to do for the Sea

The next drone revolution is happening underwater. Just as flying drones have changed from expensive specialist tools to mass-market million-sellers in a few short years, their aquatic counterparts are opening up the seas. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/robots/news/a22903/rov-sea-drones/

On the Cusp of an Undersea Revolution: Shaping New Ways to Deal with the Threat from Mines

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) promise a radical change in undersea warfare at just the time when conventional technology is becoming less and less affordable throughout the naval world. The greatest threat to warships and commercial shipping is not anti-ship missiles or torpedoes, but rather mines. Potential adversary navies have on the order of 386,000 naval mines –China 80,000; Iran 6,000; North Korea 50,000; and Russia 250,000 – facilitating anti-access/area-denial strategies, while U.S. Navy assessments indicate that a million mines are in the inventories of more than 50 navies world wide. On the Cusp of an Undersea Revolution: Shaping New Ways to Deal with the Threat from Mines    

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