We reported before on flying drones, developed with the goal of inspecting oil and gas facilities. This is an interesting space to save costs and avoid workers getting into dangerous situations.
However, we have quite a bit of infrastructure in the seas as well. The longest underwater gas pipeline is 724 miles long and there are many like that. All those pipes and systems are subject to depreciation and need to go through maintenance regularly.
The problem and a possible solution
Now, how do you run inspections underwater like that? Forget about a diving team. That would take too long and in some instances, they couldn’t even reach deep enough.
There is a company from Norway and they are called Eelume. They were established in 2015 as a spin-off from a project of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). They are working on a technology that partially mimics the movement of snakes to submerge and get around under water.
Eelume is part of Kongsberg Maritime and Kongsberg Group. They are also partners of Statoil and Inventas.
The subsea janitor
A humble nickname for an impressive technology. Eelume calls their product the “subsea janitor” and designed their snake robot to perform several maintenance jobs on underwater infrastructure.
Previous prototypes of the subsea janitor looked a little bit more like an actual snake. The current version looks a lot more like something that would actually get deployed in the related industries.
What does the Eelume team say about their solution?
On their website they define the key aspects of their technology like this, “Eelume vehicles are modular combinations of joints, thrusters and various payload modules. The slender body allows for precision hovering and maneuvering even in strong ocean currents.
Sensors and tools can be mounted anywhere along the flexible body. A dual-arm configuration is achieved by mounting tooling in each end and forming the vehicle body into a U-shape. One end of the arm can grab hold to fixate the vehicle, while the other end can carry out inspection and intervention tasks. One end of the arm can also provide a perspective camera view of a tool operation carried out at the other end.”
YouTube: Eelume – Reshaping Underwater Operations
Photo credit: Eelume
Source: Data sources have been linked in the copy.