MIT is working with oil and gas companies on the next generation of remote underwater vehicle to has created a working prototype of an autonomous underwater vehicles AUV, with the goal of further developing it into a complete functional ROV, untethered for agility, with advanced functionality, and a complete communication system giving the human operator more data, analytics and greater flexibility and control to go where no man has gone before, and literally do what humans cannot deep below the surface.
Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) are critical technologies for inspecting subsea structures and sending real-time videos and other conditional and environmental data to human operators who supervise the work being performed. ROVs are used instead of humans because of the harsh conditions in deepwater oil and gas operations for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing complex equipment and/or facilities at unprecedented ocean depths.
This poses many serious challenges to Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) and for meeting performance requirements as well. As a result, innovative designs are needed to meet the demands for better, faster and safer drilling and production. These factors, plus low oil prices, are driving oil companies to transform their businesses through greater automation and innovation by using more sophisticated underwater robotics equipment with greater agility, advanced communications and applying analytics.
The old standard method of ROV connection was to tether data and power using a heavy cable that can be miles long and can easily get tangled and damage subsea structures. To move away from the tethered dependency, Research was conducted by MIT Sea Grant team to develop an autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) that doesn't need the tether and will assist the ROV for work like unmanned inspection, drilling and even welding on a production platform.
The basic ROV includes a video camera and lights, and additional features can be added depending on the requirements. Ancillary equipment can include: sonars, magnetometers, other cameras, water sampling devices, arms for cutting and welding, and instruments for further analytics such as water clarity, chemical composition, sound, temperature, pressure, density, light penetration and more.
MIT has created a working prototype of an AUV, with the goal of further developing it into a complete functional ROV, untethered for agility, with advanced functionality, and a complete communication system giving the human operator more data, analytics and greater flexibility and control to go where no man has gone before, and literally do what humans cannot deep below the surface.
Future AUVs will wirelessly send videos from thousands of feet underwater to human operators on a ship or somewhere onshore. They will be able to navigate without human intervention, monitoring ocean currents, mapping the environment, and over time, with machine-learning, modeling, simulation and cognitive analytics capabilities, will replace the need for human control similar to a self-driving car.
It is especially interesting that MIT is investing their time and people to evolve this technology to the next level. This is an indicator of the importance everyone involved places on this innovative technology and the processes it impacts. Underwater robotics is an innovative, practical marvel that IDC Energy Insights believes is a disruptive technology that will help oil and gas companies realize: greater efficiencies, safer environmental conditions for workers, and with help from organizations like MIT will digitally transform the oil field onshore and offshore as humans and machines come together.