Autonomous seismic acquisition robots fulfill tasks in Scottish sea loch

June 1, 2023
Blue Ocean Seismic Services has completed the latest trials of its autonomous undersea robots at Loch Linnhe, western Scotland.

Offshore staff

FARNBOROUGH, UK  Blue Ocean Seismic Services has completed the latest trials of its autonomous undersea robots at Loch Linnhe, western Scotland.

Multiple vehicles operated simultaneously during the five-day program at the tidal sea loch, also recording an unexpected earth tremor that occurred during the tests.

They were able to transit and navigate accurately to a target location on the seabed, land, increase their weight to couple to the seabed, record seismic data, take off and navigate to a new location several times before returning to the surface.

Tidal conditions occasionally pushed the untethered robots but they consistently and autonomously corrected themselves to complete operations.

They were also controlled and commanded via surface and subsurface communications, consistently navigating to seabed target location (coordinates), landing within 10 m of target, and reporting their status in real time to vessel-based operators.

In addition, the team tested Starlink communications as a future method for communication and data transfer in remote offshore operations.

Previous trials took place earlier this year in Perth, Australia, and late last year in Loch Ness. Blue Ocean engineers will use the results to further fine-tune the vehicles and control software ahead of the planned commercial launch in fourth-quarter 2024.

By removing the need for energy-intensive exploration vessels and ROVs, the company expects the technology to cut typical seismic survey costs by more than 50% and reduce associated carbon emissions. It adds that the vehicles will have less impact on the seabed and marine life compared to conventional seismic acquisition methods.

CTO Ben Hollings said, “We have now demonstrated that our vehicles can reliably perform all activities necessary for a seismic acquisition, operate autonomously and gather high-quality seismic data in challenging environments and confirmed the effectiveness of our multi-vehicle communication and autonomy software stack.”

05.31.2023

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