Offshore energy is a diverse sector of the energy market comprised of more traditional sources such as oil & gas, as well as more modern sources, such as offshore wind and marine energy. What they all have in common is their location, often miles offshore, cut off from the modern conveniences of the mainland. Although less accessible, offshore energy production accounts for nearly 30% of crude oil, and for the first time ever, offshore wind is less expensive than on-shore wind. Offshore energy operations rely on big infrastructure such as oil rigs, floating platforms and a multitude of ships for working and transport. With so much floating infrastructure, underwater inspections are frequent, and fleets of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are often necessary to aid in the installation, maintenance and expansion offshore energy production.
Three types of ROVs are typically deployed across offshore energy sites. The first are work-class ROVs, these are the work horses. Large, expensive, complex; capable of performing skilled labor with the use of large manipulator arms and delivering heavy payloads. The second are observation-class ROVs which are smaller, more streamlined and outfitted with high resolution video cameras and underwater sensors to give operators a clear view of ship hulls, underwater cables, monopiles and other infrastructure which needs to be inspected. The third are AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) which are designed for continuous operation without a tether; AUVs are programmed with a mission and then perform the task with no further human input.
Offshore observation-class ROVs carry many sensors and auxiliary devices making them capable of a wide range of mission types. The Endura NRG ROV includes 1080p HD Video streaming for real-time underwater inspections, a grabber arm to attach to inspection sites, an innovative new 360 degree rotating camera to look in any direction while driving into a current, high-intensity LED lights to illuminate inspection sites, and an optional side scanning sonar to view the ocean floor.
As offshore energy sites become more automated and better connected, AUVs will be expected to perform routine inspections without human intervention, thereby increasing the amount of data and intelligence being gathered about work sites while reducing the cost of repairs through preventative maintenance and automated reporting. Click here to learn more about ROVs for offshore energy
Photo Credit: Maritime Journal
The Aquabotix Endura was used for student demonstrations last week by the Advanced Studies and Leadership Program (ASLP) at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, MA. The Advanced Studies & Leadership Program (ASLP) provides a 3 week summer college-like residential experience that emphasizes leadership and development, and project oriented instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) areas and the humanities for more than 200 high achieving students from the Cape Cod Collaborative member districts. The students are rising 8th and 9th graders.
Mr. C. Eben Franks – a noted ocean explorer, researcher and ROV instructor for ASLP conducted demos of the Aquabotix Endura 100 ROV on four afternoons: 5-6 July and 10-11 July 2017. On each of those days, fifty students were given a brief description of ROV technology and how they are used for a wide range of underwater tasks. After an introduction to the controls, each student then had the opportunity to handle the tether and pilot the ROV in the pool at Mass Maritime Academy during each of the two hour demos. Additionally, 75 students had taken the MATE Center-sponsored ROV construction and operation course prior to the in-pool demos of the Endura 100. These students were particularly delighted to have to opportunity to pilot a real ROV.
Gil Newton, Director of ASLP was quoted as saying: “ We are phenomenally appreciative of the generous support that Aquabotix provided the students in our program. The excitement and eagerness was palpable as each successive group talked about their experience with the other students. For them to have the chance to operate a real ROV is unique and many of them described it as the high point of their 3 week ASLP experience.” C. Eben Franks added: “ The Aquabotix Endura 100 worked flawlessly, right out of the box. It was easy to transport and set up each day. The MMA Cadets who were assisting with ASLP likewise had lots of time to operate it and learn about its capabilities firsthand. It never failed to put a smile on their faces.”
Underwater camera technology is constantly evolving, and a major influence for change comes from the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) market. ROVs by their very nature are designed to travel to extremely demanding places, from the depths of the dark ocean floor, to the watery confines of sunken ships, and everywhere in between. One of the most important pieces of technology carried by an observation class ROV is its onboard underwater camera.
When you need a live view from beneath the surface, the camera you select is arguably the most important piece of hardware. However, the direction your ROV is driving isn’t always the direction you need to view underwater, and instead of turning the vehicle to turn the camera, we’ve built a 360 degree rotating camera to give our operators complete freedom to look in any direction.
How does it work?
The 360 degree rotating camera is an auxiliary camera mounted to the top of our Endura and Hybrid vehicles. It complements the pan and tilt camera which is always built inside the body of the ROV. A driver may select which camera to view (front facing camera or 360 degree rotating camera) and then freely look around. Once the camera has swiveled 180 degrees in one direction, it can then turn 360 degrees in the other direction, this allows 360 degrees of view without twisting the camera wires.
Why is it useful?
Many times, ROVs will land on the bottom of a body of water, hover around a point of interest, or drive straight into a strong water current. In these cases, the pan and tilt function of the onboard camera may not be sufficient to fully observe your surroundings without first turning the vehicle. With a 360 degree rotating camera you are free to look around while the vehicle maintains its current course and speed. This added freedom allows the operator to get the best video underwater video by always pointing the camera at the observation target, resulting in higher quality video records to accomplish any observation and inspection mission.