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Modus continues to expand its fleet of hybrid Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Date: 30th April 2019

Modus has placed an order with Saab Seaeye for the next vehicle in its Hybrid Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV) fleet. The 3,000m rated Saab Sabertooth will be delivered in Q3 2019.

This further order reinforces Modus’ position as a world leader in HAUV capability and continues to build upon the advanced technology development programme Modus initiated in 2012. Modus launched its first HAUV (also a Saab Sabertooth) in 2017 which has gone on to successfully complete major pipeline inspections and the trialling of subsea docking and residency, in a project backed by Innovate UK.

The new system will be equipped with extended autonomous endurance and increased thrust for high speed survey and will be prepared for the integration of advanced and high-resolution sensors for different types of applications and operations.

Jake Tompkins, CEO Modus commented, “We are delighted to announce the continuation of our drive to develop and bring to market highly differentiated capabilities. This latest order demonstrates our commitment to provide game changing performance, data quality and economic benefits to our customers. This is part of a significant programme to develop not only a fleet of autonomous vehicles, but also AI and machine learning methods for integrating data, data visualisation, remote vehicle control and mission planning. More announcements on this programme will follow.”

Anne-Marie Vösu, Head of Dynamics business unit Underwater Systems at Saab Dynamics also remarked “It’s great to receive further orders from Modus, it is a proof from the customer that they are satisfied with Saab’s unique AUV/ROV hybrid solution that we are continuing to develop for customers further needs”.

The Modus vehicle has all the advanced features of the military hybrid AUV/ROVs, combined with the rugged and proven Saab Seaeye technology. The vehicle is also capable of providing light intervention support and with a depth rating of 3,000m it can be deployed on a wide range of subsea tasks across all sectors.

Modus drives world-first resident AUV programme

Date: January 2018

A Darlington-based subsea specialist is developing an innovative approach to enable autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to remain at offshore wind farm sites without a support vessel. The move could shave £1.1billion1 from the operating cost of Europe’s offshore wind farms and would be a world-first in the sector.

Modus Seabed Intervention, in partnership with Osbit Ltd and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, is trialling an AUV docking station. The design will enable vehicle re-charging, as well as the upload of acquired data and download of mission commands.

The use of AUVs to survey and inspect offshore wind farm subsea infrastructure is a relatively new cost-efficiency measure in this sector. Replacing support vessels with the AUV docking station could further reduce expenditure. In addition to the estimated £1.1billion saving across the current 11GW offshore wind farm fleet over the next 25 years, the scheme will also significantly reduce the need for staff to work in often hazardous environments.

“Since 2012, Modus has been focusing on the development of hybrid AUV systems to be deployed for subsea and seabed survey, and inspection,” says Managing Director of Modus and project lead Jake Tompkins. “Part of our vision is to see AUVs becoming field resident, offering significant cost savings and quality benefits to the markets and our customers.”
T
he Autonomous Vehicle for the Inspection of offshore wind farm Subsea INfrastructure (AVISIoN) project has received funding from Innovate UK. This will enable further development, testing and demonstrations of Modus’ existing Hybrid AUV capability, and docking station.

Testing will take place at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland. The first phase will use saltwater testing docks and Catapult’s National Anemometry Hub. Offshore wind farm developers Innogy, EDF Energy and E.ON are also supporting the project, with Innogy agreeing to carry commercial trials at the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm.

“Currently, seabed surveys and infrastructure inspections are carried out by crewed survey vessels using hull-mounted equipment, diving and ROV support vessels. These methods are time consuming, expensive and often heavily weather dependent. But the UK is now leading the world in the development of offshore wind farm subsea autonomous inspection technologies,” says O&M Strategy Manager for ORE Catapult Andrew Kay. “The system being developing with Modus and Osbit will be fully self-sufficient, reducing operational and maintenance costs, as well as the levels of personnel required.”

Tariq Dawood, research engineer at the EDF Energy R&D UK Centre said: “EDF Energy strongly believes the AVISIoN project will likely lead to a complete rethink in the logistics for subsea surveys for future offshore wind farms. “Through the EDF Energy R&D UK Centre, we are fully committed to participating in the AVISIoN project to ensure the benefits of a permanent offshore base station for an Automated Underwater Vehicle is realised in terms of improved health and safety and reduced Levelised Cost of Energy.”

Graham Thorpe, Asset Integrity Engineer for Innogy, said: “As a large offshore wind farm operator, Innogy promotes innovation and is happy to aid in the development of technology that will help drive down maintenance costs and potentially benefit the industry as a whole.”

1Offshore wind farm operators who utilise AUVs can reduce their LCOE by 0.8%. Applying this cost saving for a 400MW representative offshore wind farm (ref, IEA methodology), a 0.8% LCOE reduction will yield cost savings of £1.6m per annum. Across the current 11GW of European installed capacity over this next 25 years, that could equate to as much as £1.1bn.

Modus Unveils Next Generation Survey and Inspection Capability

Modus Seabed Intervention has completed system integration and trialling of one of the subsea industries first commercially available hybrid unmanned underwater vehicles; driving high performance, quality and cost-effective delivery of survey and inspection projects in the offshore, defence and oceanographic sectors. The Modus hybrid is one of the first Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) to feature the capabilities and characteristics of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

Working in partnership with Saab Dynamics for over three years, global subsea service provider Modus has developed the Saab Sabretooth specification for greater endurance and speed, and is also developing advanced sensor payload packages and operating methodologies.

Having completed a programme of integration tests and trialling both in Sweden and in the UK, the company is preparing the advanced spread for its first commercial deployment. The system will be used in survey and inspection projects in the oil & gas, interconnector and offshore renewables sectors to support pre-engineering, construction support and life-of-field condition monitoring requirements. The company is also working on a number of applications in the oceanographic and defence sectors.

The vehicle can be operated fully autonomously or as a tethered ROV, offering unrivalled flexibility and cost benefits from one platform. Whilst conventional AUVs are designed to remain in motion, the hybrid AUV features a thruster pattern that enables it to hover and operate with 6 degrees of freedom, providing a highly differentiated capability for inspection and light intervention applications.

Modus has armed the vehicle with increased thrust to support high speed survey, as well as additional batteries for extended autonomous endurance. The first vehicle is depth rated to 1,200 metres, which can be upgraded to 3,000 metres to meet project-specific applications. Modus have also developed two deployment and recovery systems; a floating dock for surface deployment and recovery, and a subsea garage allowing for a full de-coupling from the support vessel and for the vehicle to navigate autonomously in and out of the garage on the seabed.

As part of its advanced survey technology payload, the spread features as standard, a suite of sensors including the latest Edgetech 2205 combined triple frequency sidescan sonar, co-located bathymetry and sub-bottom profiler; HD video and stills cameras, IXBlue Phins3 INS, RDI workhorse DVL and 3D imaging sonars. Additional equipment available for integration includes R2 Sonic 2024 MBES, Cathodic Protection (CP) probes, magnetometer, cable tracking and laser scanning systems.

This new vehicle is part of a significant development programme by Modus, to introduce advanced and disruptive technologies across its range of services. In addition to new technology platforms, Modus is also developing a fully-managed service to provide a cost-effective and efficient service for holistic data harvesting and data and asset management, in combination with advanced mission planning and execution methodologies.

Modus and Saab have entered into a collaboration agreement, focussed on research and development to generate a road map to define the future capabilities of hybrid AUV technology. The company is heavily focussed on full subsea residency for life of field support, with the autonomous vehicles remaining permanently in situ rather than being deployed from a vessel.

Jake Tompkins, Managing Director of Modus Seabed Intervention, said: “Our hybrid AUV capability is a game changing development for the subsea industry that innovatively addresses the sector challenges and the current economic environment.

“Our ongoing investments into subsea vehicle development, disruptive innovation and operating processes will ensure our customers can benefit from a differentiated approach to survey, inspection and intervention, providing cost effective, high quality performance.”

Jake added: “The hybrid AUV development and our ongoing partnership with Saab demonstrate our commitment to remain at the forefront of the subsea sector through the application of advanced technology. We are consistently driving innovation to enable our customers to maximise operational efficiencies whilst meeting evolving industry requirements.”

Subsea Specialist Modus Secures Major UXO Investigation Contract

Modus Seabed Intervention, one of UK’s leading subsea specialist contractors, has secured a major contract on DONG Energy’s prestigious Burbo Bank Extension Offshore Wind Farm.

Modus Seabed Intervention has been contracted by DONG Energy to conduct pre-installation works on the planned offshore wind farm Burbo Bank Extension which is located west of the existing Burbo Bank offshore wind farm, approximately 7.0km off the coast near Liverpool.

The workscope has been divided into two packages – an initial investigation survey of known ferromagnetic UXO (Unexploded Ordinance) targets to identify any explosive ordnance within the site, followed if required by an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operation to dispose of all positively identified EO. To deliver this project, Modus will be working with subcontractors N-Sea (Survey specialist) and Ramora (ordnance specialist). The project will utilise the DPII DSV Noordhoek Pathfinder, equipped with Modus CSROV, as well as N-Sea’s Aberlour to support diving operations.

DONG Energy’s appointment of Darlington-based Modus to provide unexploded ordinance investigation and disposal services on this high profile project, is an acknowledgement of the region’s strong supply chain and affirms the company’s position as a leading subsea specialist in the important wind farm sector.

Nigel Ward, Commercial Director of Modus Seabed Intervention, said: “This is a major contract to have secured and we are delighted to be working with DONG Energy on such an important UK Offshore Windfarm Project, and we look forward to completing another safe and efficient service with our key partners.”

“The contract also demonstrates DONG Energy’s commitment to working with UK contractors in the construction of these strategic wind farms. Modus’ position on the development is not only a reflection of our growing status in the wind farm sector, but it also strengthens us for future growth as we continue to invest in the latest subsea technology.”