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Subsea Robot for Ocean Observation Or Asset Inspection Service
USS Hybrid ROV/AUV Enables Remote Monitoring


Peter Mellor

The USS range of motion.
Citizens, sailors and scientists have observed the seas for centuries—first from the shore, then from ships and submersibles, and more recently from satellites. Along the way, scientists and engineers learned that sometimes they could leave instruments in the ocean, secured by wires, buoys, weights and floats. Each new attempt has advanced our understanding of the ocean system and its interaction with the rest of the planet.

The next big leap will take the form of ocean observatories. These will house suites of instruments and sensors with long-term power supplies and permanent communications links that can feed data to scientific laboratories in real time.

One such tool taking that big leap is the Unmanned Subsea Surveyor (USS), a hybrid ROV/AUV developed by WorleyParsons (Sydney, Australia). It completed sea trials in December 2013, and the company has begun taking orders for its subsea robot. This achievement puts WorleyParsons in a position to remotely inspect subsea assets or the subsea environment with precision repeatability for up to a year, all executed from the office. A system of high-tech sensors with precision accuracy enables real-time monitoring and data gathering from the ocean floor, and has numerous applications, including permanent subsea inspection, marine sciences, defense and subsea mining.

Unmanned Subsea Surveyor
The core innovation enabling the USS to provide a superior monitoring outcome relates to technology that allows a remote user to capture a variety of images (or other peripherals) in a subsea environment. The USS extends 10 meters from the base and rotates 360°, covering 300 square meters with repeated precision between surveys. The USS can be completely piloted over the Internet in real time, giving scientists, students, educators and policy makers better data on the state of the ocean at the sites being surveyed. The USS could lead to potential discoveries or collaboration between many different disciplines in the study of the ocean.

The system combines video, NDT probes and any other Ethernet-cabled instruments. Moorings anchored to the seafloor support the buoy for long-term deployments. Most recently, WorleyParsons has been investigating drill support and defense applications where the device is tethered to the land or the mother ship.

As a result of 36 months of development in Perth, Australia, and field trials, both at the Australian Maritime Complex in Henderson, Australia, and offshore Port Hedland, Australia, WorleyParsons now delivers more accurate and reliable data than data obtained with divers, at an increased frequency and on demand. The accuracy and regularity of these data provide a basis for more informed project decisions, and maximize productivity and schedule integrity by expediting data analysis and subsequent reporting. To continue this article please click here.

Peter Mellor is the manager of ports, marine terminals and marine sciences within WorleyParsons's Perth, Australia, office and is a Ph.D. candidate. He has led field teams and project delivery for more than 300 million cubic meters of dredging. He leads technology development of diverless solutions at WorleyParsons for a range of private and public sector clients. Industry areas serviced include quarrying and mining, petroleum and gas, water supply and treatment, transport, defense and government authorities.

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