APRIL 18, 2016 — The next big thing in subsea inspection, maintenance and repair? It could be swimming robot snakes. The NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and research company Sintef have been conducting research on snake robotics for more than 10 years. Now Kongsberg Maritime and Statoil have signed an agreement with Eelume, a NTNU spin-off company, that is developing a disruptive solution for underwater inspection and maintenance in the form of a swimming robot.
The robots would do inspection and light intervention jobs on the seabed, reducing the use of large and expensive vessels. With its snake-like form, the slender and flexible body of the Eelume robot provides access to confined areas that are difficult to access with existing technology.
Eelume robots will be permanently installed on the seabed and will perform planned and on-demand inspections and interventions. The solution can be installed on both existing and new fields where typical jobs include; visual inspection, cleaning, and adjusting valves and chokes. These jobs account for a large part of the total subsea inspection and intervention spend.
The strength of the just-signed collaboration lies in the unique contributions from each of the parties. Eelume is founded by top academics from NTNU, Kongsberg Maritime brings in 25 years of experience and technology development within marine robotics and Statoil provides access to real installations for testing and qualification.
"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," says Pål Liljebäck, CTO Eelume
"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," says Bjørn Jalving, Executive Vice President Subsea Division at Kongsberg Maritime. "It is a new tool that will enable operators to realize large scale cost savings by introducing new ways of conducting routine tasks and helping to prevent unscheduled shutdowns by reacting instantly when required."