AIV – Paving the way for an Autonomous Light Intervention Vehicle
When Subsea 7 and SeeByte collaborated in engineering the AIV, the world’s first purpose built Autonomous Inspection Vehicle, they were looking for a new cost-effective asset for inspecting LoF (Life of Field) projects. The AIVs software was designed to dynamically control this unique hover-capable vehicle, which is already being used in Subsea 7 LoF projects for general visual inspection. It can also be used as an aid to field survey, integrity management and developments continue, looking at expanding its use to light intervention activities.
One of the advantages of the AIV over other AUV’s is its capability to hover, maintaining station when necessary. It also has the ability to operate directly from a host facility such as an FPSO or rig as well as from infield support vessels. The AIV has no tether, which enhances vehicle maneuverability and the capability to easily access confined spaces. Its array of navigation tools and sensors are powered by its own onboard battery power source, which allow for up to 24 hours of autonomous inspection. It can be expected that a subsea docking system may be in the works, which would significantly increase its operational up-time, by decreasing the amount of times it needs to return to the host vessel, which would be only necessary for maintenance.
Future developments beyond this initial Mark 1 AIV will provide additional sensor capability along with abilities to provide asset contact measurement and eventual light intervention tasks. As offshore oil and gas exploration and production is evolving into deeper water, more remote locations and with an associated increase in complexity, operators are looking towards a more intelligent and autonomous maintenance environment. In terms of heavy intervention work as done by WCROVs, the AIV still comes up short. But the developers are confident that they will be able to do some pre-programmed light intervention work, although it is still not clear exactly what kind of work. However, the AIV looks as though it will be extensively used in support of WCROV jobs and diver support, thereby freeing WCROVs normally used for this purpose.