The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Mar/Apr 2017


New General Dynamics Bluefin SandShark AUV ready to launch

General Dynamics Mission Systems, USA, has announced its new Bluefin SandShark AUV is ready to order.

Weighing less than 11 pounds (five kilograms) before adding a mission payload, the ‘micro’ AUV fits in a backpack, can swim up to five knots and dive down to 200 metres. The tail section of the Bluefin SandShark houses the battery and system electronics and is designed to leave most of the vehicle open for the user to customise with sensors and other mission critical payloads.

“Compared to other small AUVs, the Bluefin SandShark offers customers the most flexibility and diverse mission capabilities at a very affordable cost,” said Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of Maritime and Strategic Systems for General Dynamics Mission Systems. “Depending on how it is configured, the Bluefin SandShark AUV can provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information for defence or harbour security missions, dive down to survey submerged structures or become a floating communications network node at sea.”

All Oceans introduces all-new MAC-ROV

UK-based All Oceans Engineering reports the release of “the all-new MAC-ROV”.

Options for the small ROV’s deployment include ‘tow and throw’ systems to 1000 metres, fly-out systems and mission specific ‘shuttle’ systems to 6000 metres, the firm said.

New 2G Robotics underwater laser scanner

Canada-based 2G Robotics reports the introduction of the ULS-500 Pro laser scanner.

“This new product generates high-resolution 3D point clouds in real-time, and delivers tremendous improvements in scanning range, sampling rate and point cloud density,” the company said.

Optimised to integrate with standard ROVs and  AUVs, the ULS-500 Pro enables innovative, dynamic laser scanning of subsea assets at ranges up to 15 metres, reducing deployment time and resolving features acoustic and photogammetric methods are unable to capture, the firm added.

Falcon becomes modern icon

On permanent display at the Maritime Museum’s Offshore Experience exhibition in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is arguably the most successful underwater robotic vehicle of its class in the world, the Saab Seaeye, UK, Falcon.

The exhibition is the first in Europe to offer an insight into the current state-of-art technology used in the oil, gas and wind energy sectors at sea, and provides a setting for innovative courses, research and education.

Visitors experience life on board an offshore platform and in the undersea world below, through exhibits, film and simulation.

“Discovering how technology can master the most hostile environment on the planet is a valuable and inspiring experience,” said Saab Seaeye’s managing director, Jon Robertson.

“When we introduced the Falcon more than 15 years ago its pioneering technology changed the industry and it is still our top selling system,” he added. “This year its winning formula is further enhanced with our advanced iCON behaviour-based intelligent control architecture.”

Kongsberg's new 'swimming' robot to 'significantly reduce' IMR costs

Kongsberg Maritime, Norway, has announced the launch of its “unique and highly innovative” Eelume ”swimming” robot. The new technology is designed to significantly reduce costs related to subsea inspection, maintenance and repair operations, said a company spokesman.

“With its slender and flexible body, the Eelume robot provides access to confined areas that are difficult to inspect with existing technology,” explained the spokesman. “Eelume robots will be permanently installed on the seabed and will perform planned and on-demand inspections and interventions.”

Deep Ocean Engineering introduces the Phantom L6

Deep Ocean Engineering, USA, reports the introduction of the Phantom L6, its newest addition to the Phantom series of inspection-class remotely operated vehicles.

The California-based company said the applications for use of the Phantom L6 span a broad spectrum of industries, including: infrastructure inspections (bridges, tunnels, pipelines, ships); hydroelectric system monitoring (power plants, dams, reservoirs); homeland security (law enforcement, military); and exploration (oil and gas, salvage, search and recovery).

Per John Bergman, Deep Ocean Engineering vice president of engineering, said: “The Phantom L6 is our latest entry into the 500-metre inspection-class ROV arena. It comes equipped with active roll stabilisation and heading gyro stabilisation, allowing the pilot to control with precision, while minimising exhausting, repetitive movement. As with other Phantom series ROVs, we offer an open-frame architecture for easier mechanical integration, and dedicated expansion bulkhead connectors are provided as standard. Its six enhanced Tecnadyne (USA) thrusters provide sufficient power to raise the ROV out of areas that could otherwise trap a smaller ROV.”

VisualSoft upgrades

Forum Energy Technologies (FET), USA, reports a number of new features and capabilities within its VisualSoft software suite.

The VisualSoft suite is a well-established toolbox of applications used during survey and inspection of subsea assets, in particular pipelines and cables.

“The first of these releases features a multi-channel, high definition version of VisualDVR (digital video recorder). This system is available with up to four channels of high definition video recording with in-built dynamic overlay. The new recorder can distribute live video and overlay channels without the requirement for additional hardware. Video files are recorded using H.264 encoding for optimum storage efficiency and playback compatibility,” said a spokesman.

In recognition of the widespread use of H.264 as a recording format within the subsea industry, the spokesman said, VisualSoft has released an unlimited codec-free player for use within its editing suite (VisualEdit) and its freely available viewer (VisualReview). The player has improved window handling to allow optimum use of high definition video playback, he said.

The forthcoming release of VisualSoft Suite version 11 will bring a host of refinements to the existing software and includes a new 3D Graphics window within all VisualEdit editions, according to the spokesman. “The tool provides improved and faster display of multibeam echosounders and profiler data, it also features an intuitive user interface to allow the user to configure the appearance of the pipeline, seabed and anomalies for faster and easier review of data,” he explained.

An audio logging and display feature is included in V11. This tool can be accessed when using VisualEdit or VisualReview to identify and navigate to regions within the recording which have audio usually associated with event observations, said the spokesman.

He added: “Also new from the VisualSoft range is VisualOverlay, a standalone dynamic overlay system with all the same features that are found within the VisualDVR overlay.”

Underwater metal detector for search and recovery ops

JW Fishers, USA, reports the introduction of the SAR-1 search and recovery underwater metal detector.

The new detector was specially designed for use by public safety dive teams, law enforcement agencies and military units that need to locate metal objects in poor visibility underwater environments, according to a company spokesman.

“The SAR-1 alerts the operator to the presence of metal by vibration which is transmitted through the handle,” the spokesman explained. “Even in zero visibility, the user can feel the intense vibration conducted through the detector’s handle and into the diver’s arm. In addition to vibration, the detector also has a high intensity LED display which is directly in front of the diver’s face and easy to see in all but the worst conditions.”

He added that other key features of the SAR-1 are its “snareless” design with no external wires or cables, rugged construction, streamlined configuration and bright yellow search coil which helps guide the operator to the target in low-visibility environments.

“The eight-inch (20-centimetre) search coil has excellent detection capability on a range of targets from small shell casings to weapons and explosive devices,” he said. “Larger targets can be detected at more than five feet (1.5 metres). The material between the search coil and the metal object does not affect the detector’s range. Whether detecting through air, water, silt, sand, mud or rock, the detection range remains the same.”

Vessel Technology unveils DPSS Net

Vessel Technology, UK, has announced the launch of a new product that allows customers to “reduce operating costs, time and risk associated with dynamic positioning operations”.  

The Aberdeenshire-based company said DPSS Net allows network storm tests to be carried out to verify vessel control systems as well as identify any issues. 

David Milne, director of Vessel Technology, said: “DPSS Net compliments Vessel Technology’s DPSS product which has been warmly received into the industry where no similar solution is available. Both of our products allow the vessel’s crew to perform functionality that was previously not possible without the attendance of the manufacturer’s service engineer.”

The DPSS (Dynamic Positioning Signal Simulator) product has been tested on sea trials during a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) in conjunction with DP and Marine Assurance, Norway. Peter Solvang, director of DP and Marine Assurance, said: “Vessel Technology’s products help prevent DP incidents and issues, and enhance safety.”

Tritech and SMS deploy shark detection system

Tritech International, UK, reports it has successfully deployed its first full-beach shark detection system in collaboration with Shark Mitigation Systems (SMS), Australia. The Clever Buoy system is currently active at City Beach in Perth, Western Australia.

Each Clever Buoy is solar powered and utilises a PC running the jointly developed SharkTec software, with three sonars creating a continuous area of coverage. When the SharkTec software identifies a shark, a message is sent onshore via the Clever Buoy app and is integrated into emergency services messaging to the public. City Beach now has two Clever Buoys active, each with three sonars, creating a “virtual shark net” around the entire beach.

Richard Talmage, SMS general manager, said: “The Clever Buoy project has been an exciting journey between Shark Mitigation Systems and Tritech International.  Over the past few years we have successfully created a unique, commercially viable and non-invasive alternative to shark mitigation methods that will hopefully benefit communities around the world in years to come.”

The system uses Gemini 720is multibeam sonars which, according to Tritech, combine the benefits of high-definition imaging, medium-range target detection and a fast update rate – making it ideal for marine life detection.

Pauline Jepp, senior software engineer at Tritech, said: “SharkTec was born from SeaTec, our existing marine mammal detection software. Data has been collected by SMS over a number of years and used to adapt SeaTec software to be more focused on sharks. The system was trialled extensively in Bondi Beach, Sydney Harbour, Hawk’s Nest Bay and Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa, before being deployed in Perth.”

SMS approached Tritech in 2013 to collaborate on the project following a number of successful projects where the company’s SeaTec software was used to detect marine life around tidal turbines.

Pauline Jepp continued: “It has been a fantastic experience to work with Shark Mitigation Systems on such a unique project for Tritech. Target detection and tracking is an important extension of sonar technology and Tritech will be continuing to develop these applications to this and other industries.”

  • City Beach now has two Clever Buoys active, each with three sonars, creating a "virtual shark net" around the entire beach. Photo: Terry Goss
Gavia sidescan and bathymetry module release

Teledyne Gavia, the Iceland-based manufacturer of the Gavia AUV, has announced the release of a new sidescan/bathymetry module that incorporates Klein Marine Systems’ (USA) new UUV-3500 high-resolution sidescan sonar with optional bathymetry sonar.

“The system is another high quality option for customers interested in utilising the Gavia AUV for geophysical survey, cable and pipeline survey, environmental survey and under ice survey, as well as mine countermeasures, rapid environmental assessment, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance surveys,” said a spokesman.

He added: “Equipping the Gavia AUV with the survey-grade long range sidescan from Klein Marine Systems creates a highly mobile survey platform with high quality sidescan range and resolution. The swath bathymetry option allows for wide swath performance which is typically 10 to 12 times the overall altitude of the AUV. The new module allows customers to have both sidescan and swath bathymetry from a single module.”

Modus unveils next generation survey and inspection capability

Modus Seabed Intervention, UK, has announced it has completed system integration and trialling of one of the subsea industry’s first commercially available hybrid unmanned underwater vehicles, “driving high performance, quality and cost-effective delivery of survey and inspection projects in the offshore, defence and oceanographic sectors”.

The Modus hybrid is one of the first AUVs to feature the capabilities and characteristics of an ROV, according to the company.

Working in partnership with Saab Dynamics, Sweden, for more than three years, Modus said it has developed the Saab Sabertooth specification for greater endurance and speed, and is also developing advanced sensor payload packages and operating methodologies.

Having completed a programme of integration tests and trialling both in Sweden and in the UK, the company reports it 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, Modus said. The company added it is also working on a number of applications in the oceanographic and defence sectors.

“The vehicle can be operated fully autonomously or as a tethered ROV, offering unrivalled flexibility and cost benefits from one platform,” said Modus. “Whilst conventional AUVs are designed to remain in motion, the hybrid AUV features a thruster pattern that enables it to hover and operate with six 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 1200 metres, which can be upgraded to 3000 metres to meet project-specific applications. Modus has 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 (USA) 2205 combined triple frequency sidescan sonar, co-located bathymetry and sub-bottom profiler, HD video and stills cameras, IXBlue (France) Phins3 INS, Teledyne RDI (USA) Workhorse DVL and 3D imaging sonars. Additional equipment available for integration includes the R2Sonic (USA) 2024 MBES, cathodic protection probes, magnetometer, cable tracking and laser scanning systems.

“This new vehicle is part of a significant development programme by Modus to introduce advanced and disruptive technologies across its range of services,” the company said. “In addition to new technology platforms, 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.”





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