Autonomous feat for Saab Seaeye

Sabertooth The Sabertooth was sent on various autonomous transits to undertake mock inspection tasks. Image: Saab Seaeye

Saab Seaeye has achieved a world first by successfully docking an autonomous vehicle to an Equinor open-standard subsea docking station (SDS) to recharge its batteries and download data.

From the docking station at Sweden’s Lake Vättern. the Sabertooth was sent on various autonomous transits to undertake mock inspection tasks that included returning to the station for recharging and video data download. The operation sought to demonstrate the safety, cost reduction and carbon reduction benefits of the vehicle.

Jon Robertson, managing director of Saab Seaeye Ltd, said: “For 30 years we have been in the forefront of developments and it’s brilliant to see a major advance in the future of the industry come to fruition.”

Pre-programmed plans

The docking station at the demonstration was produced by Blue Logic and includes their inductive power and data connectors. Live video and vehicle control were made possible with Sonardyne’s BlueComm free-space optical modem.

Much of the demonstration was run with pre-programmed autonomous route plans. Advanced motion controls via the BlueComm system, enabled operators to move the vehicle from an automatically held position by set amounts using a touchscreen user interface.

The mating of a TMT electric torque tool to a valve panel was also performed with control and video relayed via the BlueComm system.

Also demonstrated was an underwater simultaneous localisation and mapping (UWSLAM) that allows a pilot to ‘see’ the environment as a 3D map in real time whilst flying around.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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