VIDEO: Robotic snakes become reality

  • Business & Finance

This is the third time snakes have been featured on Offshore Energy Today. In 2013 we wrote about the real snakes on a rig, when Maersk shared photos of (correct me if i’m wrong) pythons aboard one of its semi-submersible rig offshore Angola*. Read more here:

Then, in April 2016, Norwegian oil company Statoil, and its compatriot Kongsberg Maritime, signed a deal with Eelume, to develop snake-like swimming robots that would significantly cut costs related to subsea inspection, maintenance and repair operations.

At the time, Statoil said that idea was to let these robots do inspection and light intervention jobs on the seabed, reducing the use of large and expensive vessels.

With its snake-like form, the slender and flexible body of the Eelume robot would provide access to confined areas that are difficult to access with existing technology, Statoil explained. The robotic snakes were only a concept in April last year, but a very interesting concept of which you could see an animation here:

However, less then a year from then – this is that third time mentioning the snakes on OET – Statoil and Eelume have shared a new video.

Snake robots growing

This time, the video is of the real snakes – not real, real, but, robotic real – showing the first sea trials of this new, disruptive, technology.

First live trials of the Eelume underwater robot took place in Trondheim, Norway. Eelume says the footage captured at the PREZIOSO Linjebygg Subsea Test Center during trials in the Trondheimsfjord shows the potential of the Eelume vehicle to significantly improve inspection and light intervention operations on subsea installations.

First intervention demonstration is expected to take place in 2018. The Eelume underwater vehicles are designed to live permanently under water.

“Everything is progressing on schedule for the intervention demonstration during the latter part of 2018. The system has proven itself to be a very capable inspection tool able to reach confined areas with ease. Potential operators and end customers have shown a lot of interest in Eelume, not just because it is an interesting technology, but also because it can do things that no other vehicle can,” concludes Arne Kjørsvik, CEO, Eelume.

Bright future ahead

If a recent report by Douglas Westwood is to be believed, the autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) still have,despite widespread use, the potential for substantial growth with each new technological advance increasing the viability of the vessels in different sectors, especially in the oil and gas industry. Douglas Westwood also highlighted the Eelume snakes as the technology worth noting.

The report said the sector has a strong research culture, and there is constant work to create new concepts and push the current technologies further, adding that the oil and gas industry should also see an increase in the use of these vessels because they will remain integral to many research efforts.


*Disclosure: It remains unclear what the pythons were doing aboard the Maersk drilling rig. It is also not clear whether the “Snakes on a plane” movie will get the “Snakes on a drilling rig” sequel.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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