HOUSTON — Oceaneering announced at the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) conference this week that its Freedom AUV, following an extensive testing and qualification program, has achieved Technology Readiness (TR) Level 6 on a one to nine scale, as assessed by an expert industry group with representation from TotalEnergies, Chevron and Equinor.
Freedom, a hybrid AUV/ROV system, is the result of a long-term collaborative relationship between Oceaneering, TotalEnergies and Chevron dating back to 2014, with Equinor joining the collaboration in 2019.
In 2014 the group began efforts to optimize the delivery of a pipeline inspection service from an AUV. The close association between customers TotalEnergies, Chevron and Equinor, and Oceaneering as developer, has ensured that the specification and requirements of the improved pipeline inspection AUV have been realized within both the hardware design as well as the autonomous behaviors developed and refined during the DevOps testing phase of the Freedom AUV project.
As a result of this long-term investment and effort, Freedom has demonstrated to the group that it can carry out low-altitude inspection and survey on pipelines of different diameters. The vehicle can track pipelines at between 3 and 5-m altitude from the seabed providing high-resolution survey data and at 8-m altitude for reconnaissance and seabed mapping. Freedom’s control software includes specific behaviors to locate and maximize data acquisition value for burial, crossing and freespan events.
To ensure the safety of the vehicle and customer assets, Freedom includes a sophisticated level of obstacle detection, autonomous obstacle avoidance and general situational awareness. These features allow the vehicle to re-plan its route to avoid detected objects and then to reengage with the pipeline being tracked once the vehicle has navigated safely past the object.
The initial configuration of Freedom for pipeline Inspection includes outfitting with high-specification instruments such as an inertial navigation system, laser scanning system as well as multibeam sonar technology to take advantage of Freedom’s pipeline tracking ability and proximity to the pipe.
Freedom offers users a new level of efficiency, providing significantly improved and more complete datasets than obtainable via traditional AUV pipeline inspection techniques at a significantly increased speed compared with legacy ROV inspection methods.
Oceaneering experts are available to discuss this further at booth 7380, Hall 7 at ONS this week.