Aker BP and ocean services provider DeepOcean have completed subsea trials with an autonomous inspection drone (AID) at the 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. The conclusion is definitely ‘yes’. The development of the AID is an R&D project that is likely to deliver significant value to Aker BP in the coming years,” said Jarle Marius Solland, Operations Manager at Aker BP.
The AID project is a strategic partnership among 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. The AID could potentially disrupt the way subsea inspections are conducted. As part of a 10-day inspection campaign, Aker BP and DeepOcean inspected subsea trees and other subsea infrastructure at the Alvheim subsea field on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).
“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 application programming interface (API) into the AID. This input can come from both onshore and offshore. Data from the AID is streamed onshore, and the position of the vehicle is continuously streamed back into the digital twin to ensure high data quality and increase situational awareness.
The AID measures 1.25 x 0.85 x 0.77 m and weighs 320 kg in air and can operate in water depths down to 3,000 m. It can fly in DP mode and has both station-keeping and remote-control functionalities.