Next-gen underwater vehicle hits the water at German offshore wind farm

A.IKANBILIS, said to be the world’s first underwater inspection vehicle featuring adaptive autonomy, has completed trials at the Nordsee One offshore wind farm in Germany.

Subsea Europe Services
Source: Subsea Europe Services

Trials of the hovering autonomous underwater vehicle (HAUV) were conducted by Nordsee One and supported by manufacturer BeeX and European partner Subsea Europe Services this month.

The team tasked A.IKANBILIS to inspect monopile foundations including impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP) anodes and cable protection systems (CPS).

According to the project partners, the trials have proven an important milestone in the development and application of A.IKANBILIS, which features an advanced AI-powered autonomy engine that enables true ‘launch and leave’ operation for underwater inspection tasks.

“While we hear a lot about remotely-operated and autonomous technologies for marine data acquisition and underwater inspection, this is the first time we have witnessed a platform actually think and react accordingly to ensure an optimal approach based on the prevailing conditions,” said Jan Schmökel, balance of plant engineer at Nordsee One GmbH.

“The speed and quality of the data reporting are unprecedented, and we are delighted to be trialing these innovations to achieve maximum value at our wind farms.”

On launch, the vehicle was able to complete its objectives without a human in the loop, autonomously choosing the safest, fastest and most effective way to approach its mission parameters.

The ability to make these decisions without operator input is possible due to the AI continuously learning from the suite of tightly integrated sensors, allowing intelligent adaption to complex and changing environments, such as tides, currents and visibility, the parties said.

The geo-referenced reporting of the monopile condition and 3D CPS inspection was provided to the client in near real-time via an integrated cloud-based platform.

Grace Chia, co-founder and CEO of BeeX said: “By 2025, we expect BeeX’s fully autonomous systems to help wind farm developers and operators reduce costs and risks to a fraction of today’s, from consenting to end-of-life. This successful deployment is the first step towards accelerating safer and clean energy for all, and we look forward to deployments at more wind farms across Europe.”

Nordsee One comprises 54 Senvion 6.2M126 turbines with a nominal output of 6.15 MW which have been in operation since 2017.

The 332 MW offshore wind farm is located in the German Bight approximately 32 kilometers north of the island Juist.

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