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The gas and deep-sea oil industry has a vast and expensive infrastructure to maintain and supervise. Structures like wells, piers, cables, and a labyrinth of thousands of kilometers of pipelines are required to be installed, inspected, and repaired periodically.
Unfortunately, the environment under water is harsher and affects inspecting official’s mobility and visibility, making the job difficult and dangerous. Today, with the advent of cutting-edge underwater technology like drones and robots, it is now possible to make the job cheaper, safer, and easier.
Eelume is a six-meter-long snake-like self-propelling robot that comes equipped with sensors and a camera at each end. It can be harbored at a docking station at depths of up to 500 meters for a period of six months, without the need of bringing it back to the surface.
The robot can travel up to 20 kilometers before needing to return to its station to recharge itself. It can also switch parts for performing different tasks, including tools to operate subsea valves and cleaning brushes to remove marine growth and debris.
Though the maintenance and repair work at many deep-water wells and pipeline systems is already executed through unmanned vehicles, they are required to be transported to the offshore site on a fully-crewed ship and then remotely operated from the surface vessel. The costs can go as high as $100,000 per day.
Eelume marine robots, on the other hand, are engineered to live permanently underwater, where they can be mobilized for planned and on-demand inspections 24/7 regardless of weather conditions. They are capable of performing continuous inspection, maintenance, and repair (IMR) near the subsea installations without the need for expensive surface vessels contributing to greener, safer, and less costly subsea operations.
It works autonomously on objectives assigned from an onshore control room and sends back data and video. Its serpentine design allows it to work in compact spaces and slither its body to stay in place even in strong currents.
Eelume vehicles are modular combinations of thrusters, joints, and various payload modules. The slim body allows for precision hovering and maneuvering even in strong ocean currents.
A double-arm configuration can be achieved by mounting tools on each end and turning the robot body into a U-shape. While one end of its arm can grab hold to fixate itself, the other end can carry out intervention and inspection tasks. One end of the arm can also be used to provide a camera view of operations being carried out at the other end.
Eelume Subsea Intervention will carry out the final test on the seabed later this year at the Åsgard oil and gas field located in Haltenbanken in the Norwegian Sea. The team plans to deploy its first snake robots in the next year and desires to have up to 50 vehicles in oceans across the world by 2027.