I recently got the chance to watch Carl Wirsen’s captivating presentation, The Deep Blue Sea, from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Mr. Wirsen talked about how little we understand about the deepest parts of the earth’s seas in his lecture. With the aid of a range of underwater vehicles, including manned, remotely operated, and autonomous ones, the WHOI has been exploring and filling in some of those underwater inspection knowledge gaps throughout the years in collaboration with the US government and a number of other educational institutions. I already knew that upstream and midstream oil and gas businesses effectively utilize drones Remote Operated Vehicles their geological investigations and keep an eye on far-off well sites based on a review of past ARC research.
From ROVs to UAVs:
Making ROVs more autonomous, even though they are still connected by an umbilical cable to a control ship on the surface, can offer important benefits, according to a report on LiveScience.com. This is one of the lessons learned from the recovery efforts after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. Modern ROVs already use doppler sonar, compasses, and pressure gauges to maintain their orientation. However, further automating ROVs could aid in improving their knowledge of their environment. While navigating wires and moving equipment in the Gulf, this might have been helpful.
Tether-less AUVs were the next development in autonomous underwater drones, according to an article in the spring 2011 issue of Energy Futures, the magazine of the MIT Energy Initiative. A small underwater vehicle that remote operated vehicle could complete all of those duties without the use of tethers, cables, or overt human assistance has been the focus of study at the MIT Sea Grant College Program over the past 20 years. Since that time, scientists from MIT Sea Grant, other MIT departments, and other colleges have created so-called autonomous underwater vehicles, which now function alongside the ROVs. The AUVs can be significantly less expensive, lighter, smaller, and more agile than their tethered counterparts without the tether. However, communication with a human operator is challenging without a cable to convey signals and today.
Any pool owner who has attempted to make an underwater repair understands all too well how difficult it is to complete that repair without a reliable anchoring point. This is enhanced significantly when working on an oil rig deep beneath the ocean’s surface, whether by humans, ROVs, or AUVs. An underwater robot must anchor itself to a solid surface in order to apply force to complete its mission without pushing itself away in order to open a valve, fix a broken pipe, or, in the instance of Deepwater Horizon, finally, succeed in clamping the shears on a blowout preventer. Then it must separate and proceed to its subsequent task. As a result,