Kawasaki Heavy Industries has completed a verification test for an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in UK waters.

Developed using in-house underwater vehicle technologies, the new AUV will provide pipeline maintenance services to the offshore oil and gas industry.

Unlike a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), an AUV does not use a tether cable to operate.

The vehicle can perform pre-assigned tasks autonomously and adapt according to its surroundings.

It can be operated without dedicated operators on the mothership or special on-board equipment.

“Unlike a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), an AUV does not use a tether cable to operate.”

Other operations can be performed such as charging and transmission of collected data to the mothership when the AUV is under water, reducing recovery works and additional deployments.

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It can also reduce maintenance-related costs and ensure higher safety in operations.

Kawasaki performed the verification test at The Underwater Centre, which is a marine testing, and training facility in Fort William, Scotland.

The verification test used a prototype AUV with a charging station and included automated docking of the AUV to it, contactless charging and optical communication operations.

Kawasaki intends to carry out full-scale development of a pipeline-inspection AUV in Scotland, while its control algorithms will be developed in collaboration with the UK’s Heriot-Watt University.

The company aims to commercialise the AUV by the end of the financial year 2020.