Saudis signal subsea transformation with new AUV

Saudi Aramco has inaugurated a new torpedo-shaped autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) at the Ju’aymah pier at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Designed to conduct offshore pipeline inspections, the US$2.5 million AUV also conducts offshore platform debris surveys to identify seabed clearance and potential debris.

Hydrographic Survey Unit team leader Simon Squibb said its modular design allows for interchangeable modifications based on mission needs.

The sidescan sonar/bathymetric module for geophysical operations is a camera used for subsea inspection projects, and also an environmental module for oil leak detection surveys.

A battery module can be added to the assembly to extend the duration of its mission, he said.

Operated remotely from onshore or from a boat controlling the vehicle through Wi-Fi, the AUV uses its inertial navigation system when working at depth.

“It hosts a selection of safety features that enable it to abort missions and avoid danger with its collision safety systems and eases the search and recovery with an embedded satellite phone and a pinger locator,” Mr Squibb said.

Mr Squibb said the AUV was cost efficient, with its ability to perform tasks that usually require a large, US$50 million survey vessel.

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