North-east England-based subsea firm Modus Seabed Intervention has completed system integration and trialing of one of the subsea industries' first commercially available hybrid unmanned underwater vehicles.
Modus says its hybrid is one of the first autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to feature the capabilities and characteristics of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
Working in partnership with Saab Dynamics for over three years, Modus has developed the Saab Sabretooth specification for greater endurance and speed, and is also developing advanced sensor payload packages and operating methodologies.
Having completed a program of integration tests and trialling both in Sweden and in the UK, the company is preparing the advanced spread for its first commercial deployment. The system will be used in survey and inspection projects in the oil and gas, interconnector and offshore renewables sectors to support pre-engineering, construction support and life-of-field condition monitoring requirements.
The company is also working on a number of applications in the oceanographic and defense sectors.
The vehicle can be operated fully autonomously or as a tethered ROV, offering flexibility and cost benefits from one platform. Whilst conventional AUVs are designed to remain in motion, the hybrid AUV features a thruster pattern that enables it to hover and operate with 6 degrees of freedom, providing a highly differentiated capability for inspection and light intervention applications.
Modus has armed the vehicle with increased thrust to support high speed survey, as well as additional batteries for extended autonomous endurance. The first vehicle is depth rated to 1200m, which can be upgraded to 3000m to meet project-specific applications. Modus have also developed two deployment and recovery systems; a floating dock for surface deployment and recovery, and a subsea garage allowing for a full de-coupling from the support vessel and for the vehicle to navigate autonomously in and out of the garage on the seabed.
As part of its advanced survey technology payload, the spread features as standard, a suite of sensors including the latest Edgetech 2205 combined triple frequency sidescan sonar, co-located bathymetry and sub-bottom profiler; HD video and stills cameras, IXBlue Phins3 INS, RDI workhorse DVL and 3D imaging sonars. Additional equipment available for integration includes R2 Sonic 2024 MBES, Cathodic Protection (CP) probes, magnetometer, cable tracking and laser scanning systems.
This new vehicle is part of a significant development program by Modus, to introduce advanced and disruptive technologies across its range of services.
Modus is also developing a fully-managed service to provide a cost-effective and efficient service for holistic data harvesting and data and asset management, in combination with advanced mission planning and execution methodologies.
Modus and Saab have entered into a collaboration agreement, focused on research and development to generate a road map to define the future capabilities of hybrid AUV technology. The company is heavily focused on full subsea residency for life of field support, with the autonomous vehicles remaining permanently in situ rather than being deployed from a vessel.
Jake Tompkins, Managing Director of Modus Seabed Intervention, said: “Our hybrid AUV capability is a game-changing development for the subsea industry that innovatively addresses the sector challenges and the current economic environment."