How We’ve Solved the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Puzzle with ARV-i

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) have many applications in offshore industries. Repetitive underwater tasks traditionally performed using a tethered Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), such as regular inspections of energy installations, can be carried out by an AUV.

Resident Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Applications

A resident autonomous underwater vehicle system, like ARV-i, offers further benefits over traditional AUV systems. It is a compact, affordable, user-friendly alternative that opens up new opportunities for exploring and commercialising ocean resources.

The underwater vehicle system allows prolonged and continuous monitoring of subsea assets. The autonomous drone can stay months underwater, performing pre-programmed asset inspections and surveys. Upon finishing a pre-programmed task, ARV-i returns to the docking station to recharge the battery and transfer data.

The technology solution has applications in offshore energy, offshore oil and gas (O&G), offshore wind farms and offshore aquaculture.

Using a Resident Autonomous Underwater Vehicle in Aquaculture

Fish farms are moving offshore to provide more ecological space for increased production. Subsequently, there is a growing need to monitor fish and perform other activities without intervention or risking staff and equipment. 

ARV-i, which Boxfish Robotics (former Boxfish Robotics) and Transmark Subsea developed in partnership, has demonstrated experience in offshore aquaculture. The autonomous underwater drone uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine vision to avoid obstacles and navigate autonomously, planning its path based on what it encounters as it travels.

The next-gen solution is being deployed off the west coast of Norway in a salmon farm to assess the health and size of fish. The vehicle’s stereoscopic cameras infer the mass of individual fish in the aquafarm. The data gathered allows the aquaculture manager to identify potential health issues and determine the best time to harvest the fish to maximise quality.

ARV-i features a pinless underwater connection that wirelessly transfers power and data between two transducers. AI and prior programming enable the drone to process and classify data onboard before transmitting information from the docking station. This capability minimises the size of the data payload sent wirelessly.

Resident Autonomous Underwater Vehicle for Aquaculture
Resident Autonomous Underwater Vehicle ARV-i Inspecting a Fish Farm.
Photo Credit: Transmark Subsea.

Demonstrating and Refining ARV-i’s Capabilities

Demonstrations of ARV-i’s inspection capabilities are underway in Norway. In the latest sea trial, ARV-i completed an automated, untethered inspection of an asset and saved pictures on board for later retrieval. ARV-i was placed in the water 100 metres from the structure, swam towards the target, made two loops around the asset, took pictures, and returned to the launch point. The autonomous vehicle used USBL (Ultra-short baseline) and DVL (Doppler Velocity Log) sensors for tracking and positioning. 

Resident Autonomous Underwater Vehicle ARV-i Demonstration - Video Still
ARV-i, the resident AUV delivered by Boxfish Robotics and Transmark Subsea.
Screengrab from a demonstration video. Photo Credit: Transmark Subsea.

The team plans further demonstrations of ARV-i’s inspection capabilities in deeper environments in the open sea. The resident AUV will dock 50-60 metres deep on the ocean floor.

The research and development team is consistently working to refine ARV-i’s capabilities. Firstly, they’re integrating additional navigation sensors for low-visibility environments, including multibeam imaging sonar. Secondly, they’re refining intelligent combinations of sensors to maximise results. Finally, a redundant fail-safe mode is being implemented so ARV-i remains retrievable.

ARV-i Underwater Inspection Demonstration - Video Still
A screengrab from a video demonstrating ARV-i’s inspection capabilities.
Photo Credit: Transmark Subsea.

Want to learn more about using ARV-i for remote and automated offshore asset inspections? Visit our product page to explore the product’s features and technical specs. To view a demo video, email [email protected].