New subsea technology delivers detailed, quantifiable data

Feb. 9, 2023
Vaarst has released a new robotic technology for the US subsea market.

Offshore staff

BRISTOL, England  Vaarst, a company offering human and machine collaboration via 3D, machine learning and data fusion, has released its SubSLAM X2 technology to the US subsea market, following what it says was a strong year of activity across the UK, Europe and Africa.

The company established its first US base in 2022, offering services in industrial robotics, computer vision, autonomy and artificial intelligence technologies.

As an alternative to conventional video imagery and other 3D modelling systems that require scalebar deployment and post processing of results, SubSLAM is the first real-time intelligent data collection system to deliver 4K resolution video with simultaneous high-quality live 3D dense point clouds at sub-millimeter accuracy, according to Vaarst.  SubSLAM allows fast visualization, analysis and measurement of critical infrastructure and components for asset owners operating across the subsea sectors of civils, marine sciences, offshore renewables, and oil and gas.

Developed in the UK, SubSLAM delivers detailed, quantifiable data. Applications across projects range from asset integrity, UWILD, subsea metrology for construction projects, decommissioning, pipeline inspection, cable pre-lay inspection, boulder removal and coral reef inspections.

Five SubSLAM systems are being introduced to the US: two deepwater systems that can operate in depths down to 2,000 m (6,562 ft) and three further systems that will operate in shallower waters down to 300 m (984 ft). A 6,000 m (1,9685 ft) capable system is expected to be available by third-quarter 2023.

The systems, which will make their debut off the US East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, are initially being made available to potential users such as operators, developers, drilling companies, service companies, universities engaged in marine science, and others on a trial or rental basis to give them the opportunity to test the capabilities of the system and to compare the results and benefits against more dated systems and ways of working. They will also be available for purchase on a license or outright ownership basis.

The company said SubSLAM has been deployed successfully in the North Sea, Baltic, Mediterranean and Gulf of Guinea. The technology enables asset owners to acquire, analyze and operationalize data that help them increase asset longevity and manage asset integrity with greater accuracy, speed and cost-effectiveness, the company added.

The system can also help companies cut their carbon footprint by reducing vessel days, reducing offshore headcount and enabling faster offshore operations.

Mounted on any ROV carrying out a visual inspection, SubSLAM can record all data in a single flight, in a fraction of the time of other systems, negating the need for unnecessary additional mobilizations. Equipped with machine vision sensors and fast onboard processors, 3D reconstructions are modelled while high-resolution 4K video footage is being captured.

Alternatively, if work has to be carried out over a longer period of time, multi-session dives can be carried out, with SubSLAM’s ability to recommence surveying at the exact point it left off.

With the ability to carry out real-time 3D inspections while gathering video footage in a single flight, SubSLAM takes away the need for the additional mobilization of vessels, ROVs and personnel required with other systems. This delivers considerable time and cost savings while reducing the carbon footprint of end clients.

The 3D data can be streamed live to any device in the world to multiple recipients without the requirement for any special software on devices. Onshore engineers can remotely track progress, spot issues and react proactively, as the underwater survey is ongoing.

Case study

The SubSLAM X2 system enables highly accurate 3D measurements and reconstructions, allowing it to detect the smallest defects on marine-based assets and maintain good accuracy on longer range measurement. It does all of this while delivering real-time 3D imaging to any device in the world.

DeepOcean turned to Vaarst in June 2021 to provide an alternative to traditional video camera technologies, and the SubSLAM X2 system helped the company achieve significant time and cost savings. In March 2022, DeepOcean purchased the SubSLAM X2 technology again.

Because the data the SubSLAM system collects can also be streamed live to onshore locations, the use of the system will also reduce the size of survey crews, and therefore the vessels it charters, supporting DeepOcean’s commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2040, Vaarst said.

Kristoffer Johansen, technology manager at DeepOcean, said, "The technology is significantly improving the way we conduct subsea surveys, reducing our costs and turnaround time, while maintaining the high quality of service our customers demandthat’s why we’ve taken the decision to acquire another system.”