Using a hammer to crack a nut? Try using a USV instead
USVs are no longer new. They’ve been used in defence for some time now, for a range of tasks from surveillance to mine counter measures. USVs are being used to survey coastal and offshore waters in hydrographic surveys, for ocean science and in oil and gas
Crewed vessels used in offshore construction projects are costly and can even hinder progress. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Other sectors that operate in the marine space are now finding new, smaller, smarter, cleaner tools. They’ve been using uncrewed surface vessels (USVs), so the big, crewed vessels can stick to the jobs they’re good at.
So why are we not using them heavily in offshore construction?
One reason may be because offshore construction was in fact an early adopter. But, at the time, there were only a handful of commercial USV operators whose vehicles were just too big for what was needed, making them unwieldy to deploy from an offshore vessel, defeating the point of the exercise.
Another may be the worry of the complexity involved in offshore construction. Creating complex structures on shore is one thing. Creating them under metres of salt water is entirely another.
Then there is the issue of communication and control over the construction process. Making sure each step is taken exactly as planned is fundamental to the overall success of a construction project.
USV technology has come a long way since their inception. They’ve been used in defence for some time now, for a range of tasks from surveillance to mine countermeasures. USVs are being used to survey coastal and offshore waters in hydrographic surveys, for ocean science and in oil and gas. They’re being used to go out and gather data, either as a platform for oceanographic instruments or by carrying acoustic communications systems to harvest data from sensors deployed at the seabed. You could think of them being like a remote-controlled Dunker.
USVs are now part of the toolbox across a number of sectors and the levels of sophistication and capability are increasing. Worries about lack of control, the complexity of operations or large clunky kit that isn’t up to the delicate tasks required in offshore construction are today unfounded.
In offshore renewables and oil and gas USVs are being used as part of site and seismic surveys, and then through field life, for inspection operations. They’re also being used for maintenance and repair, by acting as deployment platforms for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and even aerial drones (UAVs).
Today there’s a wide choice of USVs to choose from. From one-man portable USVs to full sized vessels, and on to fully electric coastal systems and hybrid long-range ocean-going vehicles that can operate for weeks on end. The range of commercial models has also grown. You can buy them outright or purchase a data service where you just order the end result – be it data or an inspection campaign.
USVs can now play a central role in construction operations. They can streamline operations and reduce risk for manned offshore construction teams. When deployed they reduce reliance on heavier, costlier tools and free-up crewed assets to be used on elements of a project where they’ll bring more value.
Have you got a similar project?
Challenge us to solve your problem