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Eleni Kelasidi - Resident Robot Manipulators for Subsea IMR

Eleni Kelasidi is a new VISTA fellow. Her project is within the research area Future Development and Operations which addresses key competences and technologies that can enable new field developments or secure continued operation from existing infrastructure. Her project "Resident Robot Manipulators for Subsea IMR" involves development of a new kind of subsea vehicle.

Today different types of unmanned vehicles are been used for subsea tasks, all of which are carrying different types of manipulator arms, often in a form of a robotic arm. Often the existing vehicles are the bottle neck because of their size, when there is a need of doing interventions in the pipeline.

Eleni`s objective is to develop a manipulator arm that can operate independent and without any carrying vehicles. More specific: a swimming robot manipulator, with its own locomotion and ability to do manipulation and intervention tasks. This will significantly increase the flexibility and quality, and also reduce the costs for these kinds of operations.

Obligatorisk!

Eleni Kelasidi received the Diploma (MSc) of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Ph.D degree in Engineering Cybernetics from the University of Patras, Greece, in 2009 and from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway, in 2015, respectively. In 2009-2012, she was a pre-doc researcher in the field of design and control of mobile robot with articulated body at the University of Patras. She is currently a PostDoc Researcher (VISTA Scholar) at the CoE Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems, Department of Engineering Cybernetics, NTNU. Her research interests include modeling, analysis and control of underwater snake robots.

Objective

Nowadays, there is a large focus in the subsea industry on the development of autonomous/unmanned solutions. Furthermore, the number of subsea oil and gas installations is increasing, and this creates an increasing need for subsea IMR (Inspection, maintenance and repair).

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are increasingly taking over for Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROVs) when it comes to pipeline inspection, while for other subsea installations where hovering capabilities are necessary, inspection AUVs are being developed.

The inspection AUV`s usually consist of sonars, echo sounder and cameras, but with no ability for physical interventions. (dobbeltsjekk)

Example of a ROV (left) and an AUV. The difference is that the ROV is connected to a ship by a series of cables. The AUV, on the other side, is usually an unmanned underwater vehicle and operates independently from the ship with no cables. Example of a ROV (left) and an AUV. The difference is that the ROV is connected to a ship by a series of cables. The AUV, on the other side, is usually an unmanned underwater vehicle and operates independently from the ship with no cables. Photo: Wikipedia/Youtube

However, no intervention AUVs exist in the market yet, although small manipulators may be mounted on the inspection AUVs.

Example of a manipulator armExample of a manipulator arm

Moreover, smaller ROVs are developed in order to be able to access and inspect locations of subsea installations where working class ROVs are too large to access. The size of the manipulator arms mounted on these inspection AUVs and ROVs are, however, limited by the small size of the AUV/ROV. In addition, existing subsea manipulator arms are generally quite crude and have limited dexterity.

In this project, we will address swimming robot manipulators, a new type of subsea vehicle which, when fully developed, will significantly improve the quality and reduce the cost of subsea IMR operations.

Examples of different locomotion techniques used in robotics. Left: Capuchin, a climbing robo. Right: Robot snakes. Left one has 64 motors (with 2 degrees of freedom per segment), the right one 10. HUSK COPYRIGHT Examples of different locomotion techniques used in robotics. Left: Capuchin, a climbing robo. Right: Robot snakes. Left one has 64 motors (with 2 degrees of freedom per segment), the right one 10. Photo: CC-BY-2.0 / Steve Jurvetson

Instead of relying on a carrying device like AUVs and ROVs, the swimming manipulators can perform their own locomotion, in addition to carrying out manipulation/intervention tasks.

Swimming manipulators can perform their own locomotion as well as manipulation and intervention tasks (3d render)<br>Swimming manipulators can perform their own locomotion as well as manipulation and intervention tasks (3d render)

This will provide a highly flexible robot manipulator arm (hyperredundant) with a dexterity that exceeds the 5-7 degrees of freedom manipulator arms that exist for subsea IMR today.

As the length of the manipulator arm will not be bounded by a carrying device, the arm can be made as long and flexible as desired, thus providing a unique dexterity and also a high payload capability along the arm. In addition, the swimming manipulator with its slender and flexible structure will be able to access also the narrow parts of the subsea installation.

In order to achieve a resident solution for subsea IMR, efficiency and manoeuvrability, energy autonomy and automatic docking are central features, and this project will develop new results and technology for making swimming manipulators a resident part of the subsea factory.

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