Tech company Kongsberg Gruppen and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have jointly launched an underwater robot reminiscent of a swimming snake or eel.
If the slithery movements of the Eelume aren’t scary enough, its face makes the robot look rather sinister too – bright red eyes and ‘nose’ – so you may not want to meet this creature in the depths of the ocean.
Its purpose is subsea inspection and “light intervention” meaning it’s not just a camera-enabled gadget for exploring the waters. Because it’s so bendy, it can reach areas that traditional remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) can’t. It also doesn’t need to be tethered to a ship or other vehicle atop the water, again, making it more flexible than other solutions, but it rather a permanent fixture under water.
Kongsberg company has revealed Eelume has been designed for inspection, maintenance and repair operations for the subsea related industries, but it could also potentially be used for undersea search and discovery or military operations that are too dangerous for humans to undertake.
“Eelume robots will be permanently installed on the seabed and will perform planned and on-demand inspections and interventions,” Kongsberg explained.
“The solution can be installed on both existing and new fields where typical jobs include; visual inspection, cleaning, and adjusting valves and chokes. These jobs account for a large part of the total subsea inspection and intervention spend.”
Although Kongsberg hasn’t revealed the details about how Eelume works, its chief technical officer, Pål Liljebäck, explained Kongsberg has unique expertise in snake robotics, which is why it could be one of the first companies to introduce a snake-like robot to an industrial setting.