Currently, most offshore operations are carried out by divers on hazardous missions. As their numbers are limited, dependence on their work represents a real threat to the offshore industry. The widespread use of unmanned underwater vehicles (AUVs/ROVs) could solve this problem, but since they are generally tailor-made for a specific task and difficult to operate, they are very expensive to deploy.
The overall objective of the SWARMs project is to expand the use of AUVs/ROVs and to facilitate the creation, planning and execution of maritime and offshore operations. This will reduce the operational cost and increase the safety of the tasks assigned to the divers. The SWARMs project aims to make AUVs/ROVs accessible to more users:
- Enabling AUVs/ROVs to work in a cooperative mesh thus opening up new applications and ensuring reusability as there is no need for specialised vehicles but standard heterogeneous vehicles that can combine their capabilities.
- Increasing the autonomy of AUVs and improving the usability of ROVs.
The approach is based on designing and developing an integrated platform (a set of software and hardware components) and incorporating it into the current generation of underwater vehicles in order to improve autonomy, cooperation, robustness, cost-effectiveness and reliability of offshore operations.
The results of SWARMs will be demonstrated in two field trials in different scenarios:
- Inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore infrastructure.
- Pollution monitoring.
- Offshore construction operations.
SWARMs is an industry-led project: large technology companies will collaborate with SMEs specialising in the underwater, robotics and communication sectors and with universities and research organisations to ensure that the latest innovations in underwater robotics reach the market quickly. Representing the customer, two end-users are also part of the consortium.