Hydromea, a Swiss-based autonomous underwater robotics company, 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 received €2M in grant funding from their respective national organizations, and the project is expected to be completed within 30 months.
Under this project, the partners will collaborate to develop a robust, resident drone solution, initially focusing on the aquaculture industry. The system will be specifically designed to operate underwater for extended periods, providing comprehensive condition monitoring of aquaculture operations through daily data sweeps, enabling remote access for farmers.
Igor Martin, CEO of Hydromea, expressed his thoughts on the collaboration: “With the ongoing automation of offshore energy operations and the projected double-digit annual growth rate of the blue ocean economy in the offshore renewables, aquaculture and kelp farming sectors, the demand for condition monitoring of underwater assets is set to explode over the next decade. Currently, creating a digital twin of an asset underwater is a significant challenge.”
New perspective on asset condition monitoring
“Existing technologies are primarily developed for the defence and offshore oil & gas sectors, which can afford large and costly complex systems. However, emerging sectors require robust, cost-effective and miniaturized continuous monitoring solutions. We are thrilled to contribute to addressing this need by combining our expertise in portable robotics and underwater communication technology with Unplugged’s unrivalled proficiency in underwater induction technology,” Martin continued.
Thomas Meyer, COO of Unplugged, also emphasized the significance of the partnership: “As a leading supplier of induction technology to large autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) players, we are well positioned to meet the emerging demand for low-footprint drone platforms that provide low-power underwater residency. Such a platform will facilitate the collection and transfer of data, establishing collaborative communication links between sensors, infrastructure and larger vehicles. All of this can be achieved through continuous remote operations without the need for surface vessels. This represents a new perspective on asset condition monitoring and a major step towards achieving digital twin capabilities underwater.”