Subsea engineering company, Sonardyne International Ltd., UK, has successfully demonstrated its wireless integrity monitoring technologies during a series of in-water demonstrations held at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) in Houston, Texas.

The NBL is an underwater training facility used to prepare astronauts for the micro-gravity conditions they will experience in space. The pool is the largest indoor body of water in the world and contains a full size replica of the International Space Station (ISS).

Hosted by OneSubsea, the technical symposium was conceived as a way for invited manufacturers like Sonardyne to demonstrate how subsea asset monitoring and electric oil field technologies are able to integrate with OneSubsea’s own Ethernet-enabled communications network. The NBL proved the ideal test bed for this unique event, allowing each manufacturer to demonstrate how their solutions enable asset management teams to make more informed decisions regarding planned maintenance, structural integrity and enhanced oil recovery programmes.

Around the pool, Sonardyne deployed acoustic data telemetry, sonar imaging and optical communications technologies to simulate some of the typical remote inspection and intervention scenarios its low risk technology can be utilised for.

Sonardyne’s high-speed optical data modem, BlueComm, created significant discussion amongst attendees. Installed on Saab Seaeye’s Sabertooth hybrid ROV/AUV, a link was established to a matching BlueComm unit on apparatus designed to replicate a subsea manifold. This enabled through-water wireless control of the vehicle including commanding the actuation of a standard Class 4 subsea valve. A simultaneous video feed provided by BlueComm from the Sabertooth to poolside allowed the vehicle’s pilot, and the gathered audience, to monitor the valve operation.

After docking in a separate, optically enabled subsea docking station, BlueComm was also used to harvest mission data at very high data rates and to provide the vehicle with details of its next mission.

Speaking on the success of the demonstrations, Stephen Fasham, Business Manager for Subsea Asset Monitoring at Sonardyne said: “Everything we and others demonstrated during the symposium; hybrid vehicles, BlueComm, acoustic positioning, data transfer and the wireless enabled subsea hub, is commercially available, off-the-shelf technology. Having deployed them operating next to the ISS, we’re actively working on making these solutions a reality offshore.”