Swiss underwater technology firm Hydromea has unveiled a prototype of the “world’s first” wireless underwater drone, operating in a pool demonstration.
The remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) has been designed for infrastructure-rich confined flooded spaces. It is capable of taking 360-degree scans of the interior structures and records wall thickness measurements.
The Exray is reported to be the first ever tether-less underwater drone with up to eight hours of autonomy, as well as featuring semi-autonomous capabilities. Its patented DiskDrive thruster technology provides six degrees of freedom and it is oil-free, making it well suited for environments sensitive to contamination.
The company has also designed a wireless optical control system for the drone, which uses light to transmit high-bandwidth data.
Felix Schill, CTO of Hydromea, said: “With our unique technology that is robust and miniaturised, we can finally cut the cord and unleash the freedom of portable robotics underwater.”
According to Hydromea, the ROV provides consistent and comprehensive class inspection report time after time.
The Exray enables asset operators to replace manned entry for inspections of complex flooded spaces, the company said this saves time and costs of the preparation of such manned entry.
Igor Martin, CEO of Hydromea, added: “Up to now, portable underwater vehicles always relied on a cable for communication. Our underwater drone works without a cable and sends full HD video stream back in real time.
“This eliminates any risks of getting stuck in complex flooded spaces, usually associated with cabled vehicles.”
Furthermore, the ROV eliminates the need for draining, drying and ventilating such spaces, with no need to put scaffolding in.
Within the shipping industry, the vessel operators would be able to perform inspections of ballast water tanks prior to dry docking. Hydromea added this will significantly improve the economics of maintenance and repair of the vessel while in a dry dock.