Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Resources Program)
Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Inspection Using a 3D Laser
Lockheed Martin (Houston, Texas)
3D at DEPTH LLC
Leveraging current RPSEA investments in Project 09121-3300-05 “Autonomous Inspection of Subsea Facilities” and Project 09121-3300-06 “High Resolution 3D Laser Imaging for Inspection, Maintenance, Repair, and Operations” this project integrates the capabilities of the two projects to evaluate and characterize the viability of high resolution underwater 3D laser inspection from an AUV in a local offshore trial. Current UW laser products are not operable from a moving platform and are very short range. This project incrementally tests a game changing inspection capability useful for Deepwater Facility Inspection.
Lockheed Martin and a small innovative business, 3D at DEPTH LLC, will integrate their developmental 3D underwater laser into the Marlin™ AUV system and conduct local offshore tests to evaluate the use of this sensor on a moving autonomously controlled vehicle. This will include integrating LM’s existing Marlin AUV and our proven autonomous 3D Sonar imaging and modeling software with the high resolution images from a 3D Laser. The project will include local offshore tests characterizing the 3D laser utility while operating from an AUV. Future Laser improvements will extend the sensing range and increase the speed of sampling further enhancing utility on an AUV.
Significant facility O&M cost savings can be achieved through the reduction or elimination of surface vessel operations, reduced vessel mobilization costs, reduced manpower, and increased inspection efficiency. Analysis suggests that an AUV with appropriate autonomy and sensors will perform subsea structural inspection tasks up to four times more efficiently than ROVs or divers, reduce the surface footprint by 75% and eliminate the need for DPII Support vessels. When conducting inspections of deepwater subsea installations, the performance improvement and cost savings are more dramatic, accommodating longer subsea tieback distances and making the development of smaller, remote deepwater fields more economically viable. The high resolution 3D images offered by a 3D Laser further enhance the productivity of an AUV over traditional visual and sonar sensors. Coupled with the AUVs precise navigation, the 3D models generated by the system are immediately useful to inspectors and operators for visual inspection and metrology.
Principal Investigator: Dan McLeod
DOE Share - $1,649,868
Recipient Share - $412,468
Project Duration: 2 years