Norwegian firms Kongsberg Maritime and Statoil have partnered with Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) spin-off company Eelume to develop swimming robots for subsea inspection and light intervention operations.


Under the terms of the deal, Eelume will collaborate with Kongsberg and Statoil to accelerate the development of robots that can significantly reduce costs related to subsea inspection, maintenance and repair operations.

Kongsberg Maritime will leverage its experience and technology development within marine robotics, while Statoil will provide access to real installations for testing and qualification for the project.

NTNU has been working with independent research organization Sintef Group for research on snake robotics for more than a decade.

Eelume is seeking to develop a robot as a disruptive solution for subsea inspection and light intervention work, while reducing the use of large and expensive vessels.

Eelume CTO Pål Liljebäck said: "With our unique expertise in the field of snake robotics Eelume is the first company in the world to bring these amazing robots into an industrial setting."

Planned to be permanently installed on the seabed, the Eelume snake-like robots will perform planned and on-demand inspections and interventions.

Statoil chief technology officer Elisabeth Birkeland Kvalheim said: "Eelume is a good example of how new technology and innovation contributes to cost reduction.

"Instead of using large and expensive vessels for small jobs, we now introduce a flexible robot acting as a self going janitor on the seabed. To support smaller companies in bringing new technology to the market is an important part of our research portfolio."

The Eelume’s slender and flexible body allows it to provide access to confined areas. It can be installed on both existing and new fields.

Kongsberg Maritime subsea division executive vice president Bjørn Jalving said: "It is a new tool that will enable operators to realize large scale cost savings by introducing new ways of conducting routine tasks and helping prevent unscheduled shutdowns by reacting instantly when required."

Image: Illustration of swimming robot for underwater inspection and maintenance. Photo: courtesy of Kongsberg Maritime AS.