A research project directed by Lockheed Martin through the US National Energy Technology Laboratory is testing an AUV capable of equipment inspection and monitoring in deepwater. The project recently tested the AUV on structures in the Gulf of Mexico.
The operational concept is to have an AUV autonomously inspect with minimal user input an offshore structure. The user chooses the facility, and specifies how much of the platform is to be inspected using a command and control user interface. The AUV autonomously plans the inspection path around the platform, executes this path to collect sonar data, builds a 3D model of the platform in real-time, and executes change detection to identify anomalies.
Autonomous response guides the vehicle through the mission. The response system provides mission planning, high-level guidance and contingency detection, assessment, and response capabilities for the AUV.
The testing verified the system's ability to build a model of a platform and detect anomalies in an operational environment. This combination of technologies is an improvement over current state-of-the-art offshore inspection capabilities, says NETL.