The objective was for ALIVE to dock on a subsea structure (ROV-panel) autonomously and carry out pre-programmed operations, opening and closing valves with its hydraulic manipulating arm. ALIVE fulfilled its promise completely. After Swimmer's success, it is another world premiere for Cybernétix in the field of intervention AUVs.
Target approach, docking on the subsea structure and manipulation are controlled via sophisticated on-board video and sonar image-processing, matched with a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) image of the environment.
Three dives have been carried out and have validated the functionalities of each sub-system. The robot proved its reliability in coping with difficult sea conditions. ALIVE has been designed for light intervention work on offshore oil and gas fields in water depths to 3,000 m and can be operated without either very long and heavy umbilicals or dedicated surface support vessels. Knowing that 90 % of any offshore intervention's cost is the support vessel itself, one can understand the intense industry interest in the project.
Success of the sea trials is a major step towards carrying out autonomous intervention in deep water. The feasibility of inspection, maintenance and repair operations using AUVs has been proven, particularly operations involving ROV panels. These results should please the major operators that are monitoring developments, notably Statoil and BP. ALIVE is now much closer to production and commercialization.
The Alive Project is supported by the European Commission. Cybernétix is the project coordinator and cooperates with Ifremer (France), Hitec Framnaes (Norway), Ocean Systems Laboratory of Edinburgh University (UK) and the European Joint Research Centre (Italy).
ROV: Remotely-Operated Vehicle (tethered)
AUV: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (untethered)
Swimmer: Hybrid AUV/ROV system
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