Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) private enterprise Eelume has signed an agreement with Kongsberg Maritime and Statoil to develop swimming robots for subsea inspection and light intervention in order to reduce the use of large and expensive vessels.
For more than ten years, NTNU and Sintef conducted research on snake robotics. Eelume is currently developing a disruptive solution for underwater inspection and maintenance in the form of a swimming robot.
With a snake-like form, the slender and flexible body of the Eelume robot will be able to gain access to confined areas that are difficult to access with existing technology.
Eelume robots will be permanently installed on the seabed to perform planned and on-demand inspections and interventions.
This solution can be installed on both existing and new fields, where typical jobs include visual inspection, cleaning, and adjusting valves and chokes. These jobs represent a large part of the total subsea inspection and intervention investments.
Kongsberg Maritime brings 25 years of experience and technology development within marine robotics to the swimming robots project, while Statoil will provide access to real installations for testing and qualification.
Eelume CTO Pål Liljebäck said: "With our unique expertise in the field of snake robotics Eelume is the first company in the world to bring these amazing robots into an industrial setting. Now we take the step from academia and into the commercial world to secure our place in the new and exciting subsea intervention landscape."
Kongsberg Maritime executive vice president for subsea division Bjørn Jalving said: "This partnership offers the chance to bring radical technology to the market, not just in what the Eelume robot can do, but how it does it.
"It is a new tool that will enable operators to realise large scale cost savings by introducing new ways of conducting routine tasks and helping prevent unscheduled shutdowns by reacting instantly when required."
Statoil chief technology officer Elisabeth Birkeland Kvalheim said: "Instead of using large and expensive vessels for small jobs, we now introduce a flexible robot acting as a self going janitor on the seabed."
Image: Swimming robot has a snake-like form. Photo: courtesy of Kongsberg Maritime AS.