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Unmanned Vehicles

Sonardyne participates in NBL demo

14th January 2016 - 10:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Sonardyne has taken part in a series of in-water demonstrations at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) in Houston, Texas, during which it showed how its technologies can contribute to wireless oil field monitoring operations.

The event, hosted by OneSubsea, was designed to show how off-the-shelf solutions can enable asset management teams to make more informed decisions regarding planned maintenance, structural integrity and enhanced oil recovery programmes.

Sonadyne was one of a number of participants invited to demonstrate how subsea asset monitoring and electric oil field technologies are able to integrate with OneSubsea’s own Ethernet-enabled communications network. The demonstrations took place in NBL’s 202ft long, 101ft wide and 40ft deep underwater training facility.

Sonardyne deployed acoustic data telemetry, sonar imaging and optical communications technologies around the pool to simulate some of the typical remote inspection and intervention scenarios its technology can be utilised for. 6G sensor nodes suspended mid-water were used to show how critical data from remote assets such as satellite wells can be recovered using robust, long range acoustic communications. On the pool floor was Sentry IMS, a wide area sonar that automatically warns operators of integrity breaches around subsea oil and gas assets. Positioning moving targets in the water was Ranger 2, a high accuracy system for tracking and commanding ROVs and AUVs as they carry out their work.  

In the second portion of the event, a Saab Seaeye-Sonardyne team installed Sonardyne’s high speed optical data modem, BlueComm, on Saab Seaeye’s Sabertooth hybrid AUV. A link was established to a matching BlueComm unit on apparatus designed to replicate a subsea manifold, enabling through-water wireless control of the vehicle including commanding the actuation of a standard Class 4 subsea valve. A simultaneous video feed provided by BlueComm from the Sabertooth to poolside allowed the vehicle’s pilot to monitor the valve operation. 

After docking in a separate, optically enabled subsea docking station, BlueComm was also used to harvest mission data at very high data rates and to provide the vehicle with details of its next mission. With the exception of an acoustic emergency stop using Sonardyne’s WSM6+ mini-beacon, BlueComm was the only means of communication between the Sabertooth AUV and shore during the entire 30 minute demonstration run.

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