Innovate UK backs 3-D sub-sea project

Posted on 10 Feb 2018 and read 611 times
Innovate UK backs 3-D sub-sea projectAutonomous robots carrying out 3-D scans of the sea-floor could substantially reduce inspection and decommissioning costs for offshore energy operators, according to Bristol-based Rovco, which has secured funding from Innovate UK for a potential £1 million project to develop this technology.

In the first phase, Rovco (www.rovco.com) will work with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult to develop the equipment needed to produce live 3-D data from challenging underwater environments.

These organisations will then test the technology at ORE Catapult’s renewable-energy test facility in Blyth.

The second phase will include the development of a “complete 3-D vision-based survey solution” using AI, recent advances in camera technology and graphic processing onboard small autonomous robotic vehicles.

This technology could “revolutionise” the way energy companies manage and inspect underwater installations such as wind turbines or oil pipes.

Inspections are vital for decommissioning, which has become an industry in itself in the North Sea since oil prices slumped in 2014, with operators expected to plug and abandon 1,800 wells over a decade.

Some 3-D inspection methods already exist, but they use sonar rather than cameras; 2-D scanning is also an option, but it offers less information.

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