U.S. Market Insights Wiring the Seafloor: How We Can Monitor and Protect Subsea Hardware

"Smart" subsea sensors are becoming more common - and offshore operators need an easier way to collect the data these sensors gather.

The Need: A Way to Monitor "Smart" Subsea Sensors
Today's offshore operators rely on seafloor-based hardware equipped with sensors to monitor their oil and gas fields' pipelines and structures. And subsea hardware manufacturers are now making this equipment "smarter," with more sensors than ever before. These "smart" sensors gather pipeline data using vibration, temperature, RPM, and flow.

To obtain this pipeline data, operators must physically go to sea with a ship, crew and a conventional remotely operated vehicle (ROV); this method is time-consuming and potentially dangerous. As "smart" sensors become more common and gather greater amounts of data, operators will need an easier way to obtain what these sensors collect. How can this be done?

The Solution: Seafloor-Dwelling Robots
This need can be met through intelligent, internet-connected, electric robots capable of living on the seafloor for months at a time. The robots' physical presence would wake up the sensors, allowing the robots to gather the collected pipeline data.

Operators would control the robots remotely from a shore-based facility, removing the need to go to sea. After being maneuvered to gather the sensors' pipeline data and return to the docking station, the robots would transmit the data to the operators using a subsea internet connection.

Remote observation and intervention would keep operators out of harm's way, protect the environment, and save valuable time.

The Prototype: What Saab Has in Development
Saab is currently developing a robot that fits the bill: a modified version of our Sabertooth remotely operated vehicle. Sabertooth can remain submerged for months on end, and can successfully operate in water depths of 3,000 meters when outfitted with certain tools. Soon, Sabertooth will have the capacity to monitor seafloor events 2,000 meters deep in real time – making the notion of remote observation that much closer to reality.

To observe Saab's progress on this endeavor, check out our NASA demo of the Sabertooth performing the first "subsea valve actuation" using optical communications sent through the water.

Chris Roper
North America Sales Manager
Saab Seaeye

This post is part of Saab USA's U.S. Market Insights blog series, where our marketing and business development employees offer their thoughts on the issues affecting their portfolio.