Photo: Courtesy: Saipem

Saipem trials FlatFish subsea drone

Saipem has started the functional tests of FlatFish, the innovative underwater drone for advanced vessel free subsea inspections, based on AI.

According to the company, the vehicle is now going to an extensive sea trial campaign.

Since March 2018, Shell has been entrusting Saipem with the license to develop the FlatFish technology and qualify it for commercial application.

The FlatFish is a resident subsea autonomous vehicle able to perform complex inspection tasks of subsea assets.

It was previously developed by SENAI CIMATEC in partnership with DFKI over four years, funded by the ANP R&D program and EMBRAPII.

Saipem will further enhance its FlatFish features with capabilities for risers inspection, data harvesting from subsea sensors, contactless monitoring of the cathodic protection systems and a flying-hanging garage for the launching/recovering and subsea recharging/reprogramming of the FlatFish from offshore platforms.

These further enhancements come thanks to the support of SENAI CIMATEC which, together with Saipem do Brasil, entered into a contract with Shell Brasil for the development of the aforementioned advanced functionalities for the FlatFish.

FlatFish project entirely takes place in Brazil within the framework of the ANP R&D program, which thus casts the basis for the promotion of Saipem’s technological footprint in the country through the creation of a skilled team of engineers highly specialized in subsea robotics.

Hydrone Program

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In recent years more and more operators have opted for underwater technologies designed to reduce their dependence on current structures, such as support ships, guaranteeing the remote control of operations with greater efficiency as well as a reduction of CO2 emissions and finally related costs.

To meet these needs, starting from 2015 Saipem has conceived and implemented the Hydrone Program at SONSUB, the center for the development of underwater technologies and equipment of Saipem based in Marghera.

The underwater robotics development program aims to change the paradigm of underwater inspections and interventions through a fleet of drones and auxiliary latest generation infrastructures that use the latest technologies available on the market. The program includes three products: FlatFish, the Hydrone-R and the Hydrone-W which should complete its test phase in 2021.