Live Trial of Subsea Intervention "Eel"
Norwegian technology company Eelume has released the first live video footage of its snake-like robot designed to live permanently underwater and carry out underwater intervention tasks that would normally require the mobilization of expensive surface vehicles for divers or the launch of ROVs or AUVs.
The footage captured at the Prezioso Linjebygg Subsea Test Center in Norway demonstrates its inspection and light intervention capabilities. The modular, snake-like design allows the Eelume vehicle to access hard to reach points on subsea structures, while its ability to shift into a U-shaped dual arm configuration allows intricate interactions using a diverse toolset including torque tools, grippers and specialized maintenance equipment.
Eelume vehicles are modular combinations of joints, thrusters and various payload modules. The slender body allows for precision hovering and maneuvering even in strong ocean currents.
Sensors and tools can be mounted anywhere along the flexible body. A dual-arm configuration is achieved by mounting tooling in each end and forming the vehicle body into a U-shape. One end of the arm can grab hold to fixate the vehicle, while the other end can carry out inspection and intervention tasks. One end of the arm can also provide a perspective camera view of a tool operation carried out at the other end.
The company says Eelume will dramatically save costs by reducing the use of expensive surface vessels. The solution can be installed on both existing and new fields where typical jobs include; visual inspection, cleaning, and operating valves and chokes. These jobs account for a large part of the total subsea inspection and intervention spend.
The demonstration was supported by Kongsberg Maritime’s Marine Robotics department. When completed, the vehicle will operate with a wide range of tools and sensors including Kongsberg positioning, communications and potentially acoustic inspection sensors and chemical sniffers.
Eelume is a company sourced from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and has teamed up with the NTNU Technology Transfer Office, Kongsberg Maritime and Statoil to develop a next generation of underwater robots.