Reach Subsea has provided details of an autonomous shipping project it has been working on for the last 18 months with Kongsberg Maritime and Massterly.
The first stage of the project called Reach Remote is to introduce unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) dedicated to survey, inspection, and light repair projects. These USVs will serve as mobile power banks, data centres and communication modules for underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), with both the USVs and ROVs operated from an onshore control centre. Features for both real time operator control and autonomous operations will be incorporated, as well as hybrid modes blending remote and semi-autonomous control. The goal is to be in the market with the first two USVs in 2022, with the ambition of providing a full portfolio of subsea services from a low-emission, cost-effective remote and autonomous fleet by 2025.
It’s realistic to aim for a fleet of at least 10 unmanned surface vehicles as early as 2025
Reach is aiming to become a key supplier of survey, inspection, and light repair services to the fast-growing offshore wind industry as well as tapping other markets, such as aquaculture, subsea mining, and environmental surveillance.
“Technology is enabling a radical redesign of how ROV operations are performed: shifting from a capital- and personnel-intensive setup operated from larger, energy-intensive offshore vessels towards a lean remote and autonomous platform, with certified personnel located onshore,” Reach stated in a release today.
Financing of the construction part of Reach Remote is being evaluated and may involve new equity, new debt, industrial partnerships, or a combination thereof, the company said today.
Tom Eystø, CEO of Massterly – a Kongsberg Wilhelmsen autonomous shipping joint venture – commented: “The Reach Remote concept fits perfectly with Massterly’s offering of safe, cost-effective and environmentally friendly logistics solutions.”
Jostein Alendal, CEO of Reach Subseas, said: “Based on the massive feedback and interest we experience from our clients, we believe the timing is right to introduce Reach Remote to the market. Even though the transition from manned to unmanned needs some time it is realistic to aim for a fleet of at least 10 USVs as early as 2025 in our worldwide operations. There is no doubt in my mind that we have joined with the right partners to drive the development and be in the forefront of this transition. Unmanned and carbon neutral offshore operations is a bold ambition, but with right team and the right partners we believe this ambition is achievable.”