New 'smart thinking' remotely operated vehicle rated to 3000m

Paul Boughton

Two innovative remotely operated vehicles were launched by Saab SeaEye at Offshore Europe.

Saab Seaeye has now launched its 'smart-thinking' Cougar-XTi ROV with a depth capability of 3000m and an intelligent man/machine interface. It has also unveilled a new Panther-XT Plus ROV that is probably the fastest swimming work remotely operated vehicle in the world.

At over four knots, the Panther-XT Plus stands apart from other work ROVs. Its ten SM7 thrusters not only power the ROV along, but hold the vehicle steady in strong currents during work and observation tasks.

With a new design of front end and fitted with Schilling Orion manipulators, the Panther-XT Plus boasts a power to weight ratio more than twice that of its competitors.

This latest version of the Panther series gives ROV operators a vehicle for handling a wide range of work tasks in a compact light-weight package.

Man/machine interface

In the case of the Cougar-XTi, a clever new design of man/machine interface gives the pilot a much clearer idea of the operational state of the vehicle, including smart fault diagnostics that plainly display the problem and the remedial action to be taken - thereby eliminating the need for the pilot to interpret fault data.

Significantly, any failed component can be remotely isolated; so negating its impact on the overall system and ensuring that the ROV can stay working at its designated task.

Deployment of this new 3000 metre rated Cougar is made from a compact new design of Launch and Recovery system that uses an umbilical cable of just 20mm in diameter.

And as the ROV flies away, a new autopilot system will hold depth and heading in much tighter parameters than ever before allowing ever more precise positioning of the vehicle.

Both the Cougar-XTi and the Panther-XT Plus open up new markets for Saab Seaeye, a leading manufacturer of electric ROVs. Each offer operators a work system that can be quickly deployed from a small vessel, winning important cost savings in deck space and manpower.

Task-specific tools

Operators will find in the 3000m rated Cougar an intelligent, combined inspection and light work-ROV that can be easily fitted with a variety of task-specific tooling skids, and only needs a very compact deployment system. It serves as a suitable deepwater backup vehicle to a full work class ROV, or as a standalone system in its own right.

And in the new Panther they will acquire a work-system which combines the capability of precision manipulative tasks whilst operating in high currents, all in a very compact and light-weight package.

Specialist contractor, DOF Subsea, has now taken delivery of a Cougar XTi, which is destined for Brazil. For DOF Subsea, the Cougar will add to the company's extensive capability in providing construction and engineering, IRM, ROV and survey support services to the world's major subsea markets.

DOF Subsea employs over 800 highly qualified staff and own state-of-the art equipment including 26 offshore construction, diving and ROV support vessels, 37 ROVs, 1 AUV and 11 diving spreads.

It will be permanently commissioned aboard a specially built DOF Subsea vessel, along with two hydraulic work-class vehicles.

The vessel has been constructed in Norway and will operate offshore in Brazil for Light Well Intervention. Saab Seaeye's managing director,

Dave Grant says, "The Cougar XTi opens up a whole new market for the concept of a combined inspection and light work-ROV. Providing operation to 3000m depth the Cougar XTi can either perform tasks independently or provide support for the work of construction class hydraulic ROV's. It also brings important cost savings in deck space and can be provided with a compact single skid solution for the LARS (Launch and Recovery System)."

LED light

Meanwhile, the coolest-running deep-rated LED light in the world has been developed by Saab Seaeye. The super-intensity low power light comes with a design of thermal control that avoids failure through overheating. No other LED light has this capability.

Telemetry or PWM controlled, it monitors its status and gives data feed-back on current, input supply voltage, LED voltage, LED temperature and light output percentage, so is ideal for providing data for the diagnostic capability of the new generation of control systems.

The LED light brightness can be controlled over its full range of brightness and retains a constant colour temperature over the range compared with tungsten halogen, which varies considerably when dimmed.

Low power consumption

Rated at 6000 metres, the new LED light joins Saab Seaeye's 3000 metre rated technologically advanced range of LED lights especially developed to bring extra reliability, low power consumption and greater luminosity to underwater systems.

This means that in addition to bringing greater luminosity performance to ROV operations, underwater system developers worldwide can incorporate this range in other underwater equipment designs such as diver equipment, as it has a universal power interface that can take a wider range of power options than any other LED light. A mounting arrangement to provide horizontal and vertical adjustment of the light position is also provided.

Dave McInnes, Saab Seaeye's electronic design engineer behind the concept, says the new LEDs are far superior to both halogen and incandescent lamps.

'They use a quarter of the power, have a life of over 50 000 hours compared to 1000 hours for halogen and give higher luminosity than a 150 watt bulb - with a daylight white for more accurate colour rendering of video images than the typical 'yellow light'. Important too, adds McInnes, is they are more robust than other lighting systems.

The new range of LED lights is being fitted to all Saab Seaeye ROV systems.

Saab Seaeye Limited is based in Fareham, Hampshire, UK.

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