Developed by Bibby HydroMap, the innovative d’ROP system has the potential to revolutionise productivity in shallow water survey and inspection applications.
d’ROP is a dynamic Remotely Operated Survey Platform that borrows and combines technology and operating principles from existing ROVs, ROTVs and systems from the modern day dredging industry. Addressing many of the inherent limitations of compact free-flying ROVs and seabed crawler systems, the d’ROP is ideally suited to precision tracking operations in dynamic coastal environments.
What makes the d’ROP unique is the inherent simplicity of the system without any compromise in functionality. Bibby HydroMap Managing Director Andy McLeay explains: “The system is effectively a compact high powered work class ROV platform but with all the expensive and complicated bits that we don’t need for our survey tasks stripped off; no vertical thrusters, simplified ‘hands-off’ deployment and close to fully automated operation."
The d’ROP is designed initially for exclusive operation from the company’s newly launched custom-build survey vessel Bibby Athena; the sister ship to the successful Bibby Tethra launched in 2011. Deployed vertically through the vessel’s moonpool, the system relies upon the support vessel for forward propulsion, a bespoke heave-compensated umbilical winch and combined LARS for its vertical control with the on-board thrusters maintaining heading and fine adjustments to the lateral position. Maintaining a fixed heading and altitude in relation to a survey line, cable or pipeline, this provides exceptional line-keeping ability in comparison to traditional mid-size ROV systems without additional power requirements. Providing significantly more thrust than an equivalent-sized ROV, the d’ROP's ability to hold station allows it to remain stationary, operate at slow speed for depth of burial surveying, or track at up to 4 knots for acoustic survey.
Whilst the system was designed primarily for precision-tracking of buried cables and pipelines in coastal environments, using proven technology and off-the-shelf components the d’ROP can accept multiple sensors simultaneously. This provides versatility whilst ensuring simplicity of operation and maintenance. Data is transmitted through a high-performance fibre-optic connection for quick, reliable transfer. The system also has the ability to convert into a seabed crawler in suitable seabed conditions. Andy McLeay continues: “The beauty of this system is that it is assembled from proven components and has the flexibility to support virtually any survey sensor. It can be considered as an extension of the survey vessel as it allows us to deploy our sensors where they are needed for maximum effectiveness rather than further and further away from the point of interest as water depth increases or environmental conditions deteriorate.”
Although this type of innovative platform design is a new venture for Bibby HydroMap, the company benefits from the backing and expertise of parent company Bibby Line Group and sister company Bibby Offshore. Headquartered in Liverpool and employing over 6,000 people across 20 countries, the Bibby Line Group has built on the strong reputation of the shipping company founded over 200 years ago. Bibby HydroMap, then named Osiris Projects, was acquired by Bibby Marine in 2012 and since then has doubled in size with further plans for expansion in the UK and Europe.