Deep sea drone draws interest at OTC

Video of a deep sea drone gliding along the ocean floor like a robot out of a science fiction movie drew interest from major oil companies at the Offshore Technology Conference on Tuesday.

The graphic illustrations of the futuristic craft left passers by fascinated and showed Subsea 7’s autonomous inspection vehicle inspecting oil equipment deep under the ocean while hovering over them.

Executives from BP and other companies were meeting with Subsea 7 on Tuesday to discuss the robotic vehicle.

The Subsea 7 craft is different from remote operated vehicles, which have previously been used to inspect and fix deepsea equipment. ROVs must typically be controlled by people and connected to larger ships with tethers.

Subsea 7 engineer: Who’s at OTC: Jue Wang, welding engineer from France

The Subsea 7 autonomous inspection vehicle is programmed to survey undersea systems and identify problems, such as leaks. It can be remotely controlled or it can operate on its own up to a depth of 3,000 meters, or nearly 10,000 feet.

It can also dock at stations deep under the ocean.

“It’s fully autonomous and hover capable,” said Scott Cormack, a spokesman for Subsea 7.
He said the key advantage of the autonomous drone was that it could reduce costs associated with labor and other expenses.