Could Snake-Like Swimming Robots be the Future of Subsea IMR?
Kongsberg Maritime and Statoil have signed an agreement with Eelume, a Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) spin-off company, to develop snake-like swimming robots for subsea inspection and light intervention.
NTNU and Sintef have conducted research on snake robotics for more than 10 years. Eelume is now developing a disruptive solution for underwater inspection and maintenance in the form of a swimming robot. The aim of the collaboration is to accelerate new technology in hopes of significantly reducing costs related to subsea inspection, maintenance and repair operations.
“Eelume is a good example of how new technology and innovation contributes to cost reduction. Instead of using large and expensive vessels for small jobs, we now introduce a flexible robot acting as a self going janitor on the seabed. To support smaller companies in bringing new technology to the market is an important part of our research portfolio», says Statoil’ s Chief technology officer Elisabeth Birkeland Kvalheim.
The idea is to let robots do inspection and light intervention jobs on the seabed, reducing the use of large and expensive vessels.
With its snake-like form, the slender and flexible body of the robot could provide access to confined areas that are difficult to access with existing technology.
The robots will be permanently installed on the seabed and will perform planned and on-demand inspections and interventions.
The solution can be installed on both existing and new fields where typical jobs include visual inspection, cleaning, and adjusting valves and chokes. These jobs account for a large part of the total subsea inspection and intervention spend.
Below is an animation showing how the robots will operate:
“With our unique expertise in the field of snake robotics Eelume is the first company in the world to bring these amazing robots into an industrial setting. Now we take the step from academia and into the commercial world to secure our place in the new and exciting subsea intervention landscape,” says Pål Liljebäck, CTO Eelume
“This partnership offers the chance to bring radical technology to the market, not just in what the Eelume robot can do, but how it does it,” says Bjørn Jalving, Executive Vice President Subsea Division at Kongsberg Maritime. “It is a new tool that will enable operators to realise large scale cost savings by introducing new ways of conducting routine tasks and helping to prevent unscheduled shutdowns by reacting instantly when required.”
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