Underwater drone deployed for hull inspections

A Norwegian technology company has developed an underwater drone that allows shipowners, vessel crew and shipyards to perform hull inspections without the need for divers or ROVs.
The Blueye Pioneer underwater drone has been developed by Trondheim-based Blueye Robotics, a company which has sprung out from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (NTNU AMOS).
“We are providing vessels crews with an industrial drone that can be operated by anyone capable of using a smartphone or a tablet PC. Perhaps just as important is that it is priced reasonably at approximately $4,000 to $5,000 per drone system. This will allow for several drones onboard to make inspections even quicker, which in turn means higher operational reliability and uptime for the vessel,” said Erik Dyrkoren, CEO of Blueye Robotics.
The drone is equipped with powerful thrusters that allows it to operate in heavy currents and dive to 150 m water depth. Live video is transmitted via a thin umbilical cable to the surface and thereafter wirelessly to the user, who may either be located onboard a vessel or onshore. The drone is compact (45 cm x 25 cm x 35 cm) and weighs only seven kilos.
“By providing vessel owners and their crew with easy and cost-efficient access to what is below the waterline, we also give them the opportunity to address potential hull issues before they become a problem. Combined with lower than usual capex, we believe this drone can make hull inspections more frequent and less problematic,” Dyrkoren maintained.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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