Bibby HydroMap Demos DriX at Catapult in Blyth

Bibby HydroMap recently conducted a demonstration of DriX at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult facility in Blyth.

The key purpose of the demonstration was to showcase DriX being used in the offshore renewables sector to capture essential information at all stages of renewable projects.

During the demonstration two Blyth offshore wind farm turbines were surveyed, owned by E.On Renewables. The aim of the survey was to complete a 100m box around each of the two turbines, unfortunately, the unfavourable weather conditions, and shallow nature of the turbines, hampered data collection around the structures, Bibby HydroMap explained.

The trial was the first occasion where DriX operations have been conducted from a shore-based location highlighting the flexible and simplistic deployment of DriX. In addition, it was the first time the Kongsberg Marine Broadband Radio (MBR) system was used as the communications link for DriX. Utilising the MBR vastly increased the operating range of DriX to approximately 20km, for the purposes of the demonstration the MBR was temporarily mounted to the roof of the ORE Catapult building to maximise its potential range.

The facilities provided by the ORE Catapult were ideal for conducting a demonstration like this. We were able to organise and mobilise the equipment with relative ease and all involved in the organisation of the event were extremely helpful. Using the Port of Blyth and approaches provides great demonstration area and allows the attendees to view the demonstration from the quayside. The event attracted an audience from across the Offshore Renewables sector, thanks to the assistance from the ORE Catapult; which meant interesting and informative discussions were had about the future use of autonomous technology in the sector,” Tom Davenport operations manager Bibby HydroMap.

Due to the disruptive nature of the technology being demonstrated it was critical that all parties involved where fully informed on the operations being conducted. Maritime UK currently has a voluntary code to follow when conducting operations utilising autonomous technology. During the planning stages, the guidelines were followed and all partied were correctly informed.

Current legislative conditions meant a support vessel, local vessel Taurus, was also utilised to provide constant line of sight to DriX; while also providing emergency support should it be required. The DriX pilot was also on board the support vessel should an emergency situation arise.

During operations QPS’s QINSy was running on board DriX, but operations were controlled by technical staff from the shore base enabling the full quality control multibeam echosounder data to be downloaded straight from DriX.

All data was downloaded using the MBR link once the mission was completed, with very little need for further processing, shortening processing timescales and speeding up delivery of critical information.

Having events like the Bibby HydroMap DriX demonstration here in Blyth is really what ORE Catapult strives for. Today we saw a great mix of owner operators, and business’ from across the supply chain, get to understand in quite some detail how cutting-edge technology continues to push the offshore energy industry forward. You can expect further events such as this in the year to come,” Steve Ross, data and digital - business lead ORE Catapult.

The demonstration built on the positives realised from the Gwynt y Môr trials, the use of the MBR communication link lifted the restricted operational limits on previous DriX missions. The unfavourable weather conditions on the day further highlighted the weatherability of DriX and its ability to compete with traditional survey vessels.

Source: Bibby HydroMap

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