Euro Journal

Marine mining is made possible by artificial intelligence and robotics.

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Technologies that are able to enable marine mining at all stages from prospection to decommissioning are being developed. These advances are anticipated to have a major impact on the oil and gas industry, seeking ways of maximizing asset utilisation.

Marine mining projects are opening up a new submarine area. Offshore oil and gas sites are still mostly positioned where divers can support maintenance and repair needs but future marine mining in more depth and with a complexity of machinery that demands robotic systems with strong artificial intelligence to support them (AI). Technologies that can enable marine mining in all phases from prospection to decommissioning are being developed. These discoveries will probably have a significant impact in the oil and gas business, seeking ways to maximize asset exploitation.

Current development of robotic systems:

Commercial AUVs are mainly supported by acoustic and inertial sensors. Doppler velocity log speed measurements are merged with gyroscope and accelerometric orientation values to approximate the current position. These upgrades are sometimes complemented with an ultrashort baseline system fix. However, inspection assets may not be exactly at their predicted placements during such a mission. This may be due to the improper placing, things being carried off by fishers during installation, or sediments that gradually hide a pipeline from ordinary sensors. Therefore, it is vital to equip current AUVs with software and sensors to seek, detect, track and reacquire inspection objectives.




Classic sensor suites consisting of cameras and sonars can also be extended with 3D sensing in higher resolution, such as laser line projectors (structured light). This allows an AUVs on-board software to build a 3D millimetre accuracy asset model that can be compared to computer-aided design or previously-inspected data. The AUV might detect asset deformation, flaws or sea expansion by employing a fully automated 3D model cross-check, even if it is still submerged during the inspection process.


2)-Seafloor AUV Support infrastructure:

AUVs currently have poor durability, mostly due to insufficient battery capacity. The onboard data storage space may also be a limiting issue depending on the sensor suite. This leads AUV missions to last not more than a few days, depending on the size and form of AUV, propulsion, sensor efficiency and weather conditions of the application area.


To rectify this, the focus of current AUVs research is on subsea battery recharge facilities as well as broadband data connectivity. Inductive energy transmission or underwater plug-in connectors are employed, depending upon the desired charge time. Although both require accurate placement, the latter permits larger charging currents but requires also a more complicated and more powerful connection mechanism. A high-bandwidth data link is necessary to transfer inspection results from the AUVs and upload new missions. The AUVs must find its way back home to charge its battery and send data and carry out the docking operation autonomously. A combination of dock-relative positioning sensors is used in this application.


In the FlatFish project, a joint venture creating a UV to carry out repeat inspection of the underwater structures of petroleum and gas while submerging over long periods of time, the entire channel of auto-dock-relative navigation, docking, and undocking was designed and successfully tested.




3)-In-System Inspection:

Mining machinery must currently be taken back to the surface for maintenance or inspection. This frequently stops mining and entails substantial costs. In order to minimise costs and human interference, it is desirable to carry out these duties independently underwater. During inspection, internal components of mining machines are especially challenging as they are frequently impossible to access. The field inspection of components and parts in mining equipment may therefore need the employment of miniatural underwater vehicles that can mostly function independently.


A minimally invasive platform for mining:


Based on insights gathered from studies using legged locomotives and technology previously given in this paper, robotic platforms are proposed to only have limited ground contact to prevent the creation of locomotive feathers. The below figure shows an illustration drawing of the robot. On the front, with a multimodal sensor input, such as camera data and laser scans, a high-speed gripper system individually chooses manganese nodules. In the carrier of such a system are transported the nodules themselves. Additional sediments are gathered, compacted, and released on the sea floor along with the nodules inside the robot. In addition to achieving minimum ground contact, such a device may also adapt to changing terrain conditions. The individual selection of nodules allows for a parameterization of the selection of nodules that preserve marine nodules as a marine life habitat.

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