Swiss-based underwater robotics company Hydromea has partnered with Unplugged, a Norwegian leader in inductive charging and data transfer technology, to develop a resident underwater drone system for continuous inspection and monitoring of underwater assets.
The partnership has also received around 2 million euros in funding from their respective national organizations, and the project will take 30 months to complete. The project’s partner will now work on developing a robust, resident drone solution with an initial focus on the aquaculture industry. The system will be designed to remain underwater for months at a time and perform daily data sweeps, providing farmers with up-to-date comprehensive condition monitoring of its operations remotely.
“With the ongoing move to automation of offshore energy operations and projected double-digit annual growth rate of the blue ocean economy in the offshore renewables, aquaculture, and kelp farming market sectors, the demand for condition monitoring of the underwater assets will explode over the next decade,” said Igor Martin, the CEO of Hydromea. “Building a digital twin of an asset underwater is currently close to impossible. The incumbent technologies are largely developed around defense and offshore oil & gas sectors that can afford the size and cost of complex systems.”
“However, the economics of the upcoming emerging sectors are such that they require robust, lower-cost, and miniaturized continuous monitoring solutions. We are excited to help address this by combining our expertise in portable robotics and underwater communication technology with Unplugged unrivaled expertise in underwater induction technology,” he added.
“We are already a leading induction supplier with large AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) players. Through this partnership with Hydromea, we will be addressing the emerging demand for low-footprint drone platforms to provide low-power underwater residency. Such a platform will enable the harvesting and transfer of data, establishing collaborative communication links between sensors, infrastructure, and larger vehicles,” said Thomas Meyer, the COO of Unplugged. “All this in a continuous remote operation without the need to engage a surface vessel. This shall open up new ways to think about asset condition monitoring and a giant step towards a digital twin capability underwater.”
Hydromea delivers solutions that give customers unparalleled access to subsea data and underwater assets. Its revolutionary EXRAY autonomous underwater drone can function within a tether enabling it to operate utterly unhindered underwater.
On the other hand, Unplugged develops industrial inductive modules delivering reliable and safe wireless power regardless of the environmental conditions. Its inductive modules transfer power from 30W to 3kW at a water depth reaching 4000 meters.