A consortium comprising of the R&D UK Centre of EDF Energy, UTEC, an Acteon company, and Partrac Ltd completed an offshore trial designed to assess the performance of a commercial Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for mapping seabed bathymetry.
The trial was performed at EDF Renewables’ Teesside offshore wind farm located off the North Yorkshire coast in England. The project tested a Teledyne Gavia Surveyor AUV owned and operated by UTEC. Newcastle-based marine consultants Partrac provided support with survey area selection and critical appraisal of the AUV survey datasets.
The aim of the trial was to determine if AUVs could replace traditional vessel based surveys given that in recent years the utilisation of AUVs has increased significantly.
Following an in-depth review of the datasets, it was concluded that the AUV technology offers certain advantages in terms of logistics, operable weather windows etc. and may be particularly suited to assessing marine scour.
Trevor Pugh, UTEC Technical Authority, said: “The primary objective was to prove that AUV bathymetry data quality matches vessel data. However, we were also able to demonstrate the low logistic requirements of the Gavia in that it was launched and recovered from the Crew Transfer Vessel as it does not need the dedicated launch and recovery systems needed for larger AUV’s or ROV’s.”
The study also provided a series of recommendations for future use of the AUV technology for bathymetry mapping, across the areas of data quality, positioning, vertical reduction, and data output formats.
“After this initial trial, we are now looking at what steps are required to deploy an AUV in the offshore operational environment,” Karl Burns from EDF Renewables said.