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  • Writer's pictureUFRJ Nautilus

Use of AUVs- Part 2

Updated: May 7, 2021

In the first part of the article, we saw that the AUV’s have several applicabilities, as in the underwater researcha, in the weapon industry and even how this technology has been applied in everyday use. However, the greatest development and applicability of this technology comes from the interest in exploring the seabed and mechanize work at high depths, where it would be dangerous for the use of human manpower.

AUVs in support of the Offshore industry

The oil and gas industry was one of the major boosters of technology development and its eventual application in general engineering in recent years. Over the history of the development of this industry, difficulties began to appear as production progressed from the continent to the high seas, which in turn reached explorations in wells existing at more than 7 thousand meters in depth.

Such colossal depths create enormous challenges when we are talking about operating huge structures that must still operate under a strong influence of the existing water column, which creates enormous pressure on them, not to mention sea currents and other external factors. All this complex structure and large variables that are difficult to predict, even with large studies, makes oil and gas exploration structures, such as risers, in need of constant maintenance and inspection, besides of course, the installation of this equipment itself.

In the beginning, even at slightly lower depths, the use of divers to carry out operations on the seabed was common, however, in addition to being expensive, they also proved to be a great risk to the diver’s life. For this reason, ROVs have become an optimized option for these operations, since the salary of an ROV operator is lower compared to that of an offshore diver, apart from the absence of risk to the operator’s life.

However, ROVs still have disadvantages compared to modern AUV technologies, as for example they need to be connected with an ROV support vessel, besides needing an operator, who is obviously subject to human error. That is why AUV is the most modern and optimizes technology, the result of an engineering evolution process in the oil and gas industry.

AUVs still represent a very embryonic technology arm, so much that the Robosub, a competition in which UFRJ Nautilus participates, candidates itself to bring together students from all over the world to solve and develop this type of technology. Nevertheless, they are already used for offshore tasks such as pipelines, mapping the well to be explored, monitoring marine life, among others.

Image: AUV performing seabed mapping and pipeline analysis

The reduction in costs and the most effective and precise work carried out in the oil and gas exploration operation make the perfect match for the future of this technology, which, even new to the market, will undoubtedly be widely used in even more activities in the future, improving the productivity and optimizing company costs.

Written by Giulia Carvalho, Pedro Gomes e Mariana Jappour.


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