Bibby HydroMap successfully completes trials of DriX

Posted 29 August 2018

UK-based survey specialist Bibby HydroMap have announced the successful completion of testing of ‘DriX’, the 8-metre Autonomous Unmanned Survey Vessel (AUSV) developed by iXblue.

Designed to provide a true extension of survey capability from shallow and inshore waters to a full offshore environment, DriX is a new breed of AUSV that is the first autonomous survey platform to truly rival the performance of a traditional survey vessel. The versatile system has the ability to accommodate a hydrographic and geophysical survey payload and to aid positioning of underwater vehicles, facilitating data collection on a variety of marine projects.

DriX continues to build its successful track record across the hydrographic and offshore energy markets. Thanks to Bibby HydroMap's commitment to finding new ways to work faster and better, and to the company’s sharp knowledge of offshore renewables, we were able to jointly demonstrate the relevancy of our AUSV in maximising efficiency in an offshore wind farm environment. This really was a milestone for DriX, proving once again its versatility, the accuracy of its data gathering and its stability in a range of sea states. We are excited by the results and the promising prospects for DriX and Bibby HydroMap.

Guillaume Eudeline, Business Development Manager at iXblue

The key purpose of the trials, covering a 5-day period, was to rigorously test the performance and survey capabilities of DriX in an ever-demanding marine environment. Testing took place in and around the Gwynt Y Môr offshore wind farm, operated by Innogy Renewables UK Ltd. The 576MW offshore wind farm is in a tidally-challenging area off the North Wales coast and is the fourth largest operating offshore windfarm in the world.

Specific locations of interest were identified within the wind farm environment to provide a direct comparison with conventional survey methodologies. Fitted with a Teledyne RESON Seabat IDH T50 multibeam echosounder, the system was able to acquire unprecedentedly clean bathymetry at speeds greater than 8 knots, remaining on the intended survey line in cross-tides in excess of 1.5 knots.

With a unique hydrodynamic gondola housing the payload DriX, has been designed to dramatically reduce the amount of aeration around the multibeam echosounder. During the trials, a significant improvement was realised when compared to the conventional deployment methods seen with the majority of vessel mounted multibeam echosounder systems.

During operations QPS’s Qimera Live was running on board DriX,  but controlled by technical staff on the support vessel, enabling the fully-processed multibeam echosounder data to be downloaded straight from DriX at the end of each mission. All data is processed in real-time from the support vessel with very little need for further processing ashore, shortening processing timescales and speeding up delivery of critical information.

The overall performance and data collection capability of DriX exceeded all expectations, providing:

  • Exceptional manoeuvrability within the wind farm environment
  • Ease of operation and control throughout
  • Excellent data quality at increased speed
  • Outstanding performance in challenging sea conditions
  • Simple and rapid deployment to site

Able to operate at speeds of up to 14 knots, with enhanced manoeuvrability leading to line turns of less than one minute, DriX could minimise time spent in the field compared to conventional vessels. The reduced profile of DriX both above and below the waterline enabled continuing operations in conditions that would have been unsafe for conventional vessels, where sea states and tidal currents would have limited the closest point of approach to fixed structures and limited data quality.

Bibby HydroMap feel confident that DriX has the potential to significantly reduce survey and operational costs for asset owners and operators in the future, whilst reducing the exposure of offshore staff to unpredictable and challenging marine environments.

DriX has far exceeded our expectations in terms of data quality and performance, and we are delighted to be able to pass this level of quality on to our clients. The level of manoeuvrability both in open water and when in close proximity to fixed structures enables excellent productivity, dramatically reducing acquisition time. Being able to rapidly deploy DriX anywhere in the world will let us meet our clients’ requirements on short notice, whilst simultaneously reducing HSE risk and improving output.

Tom Davenport, Operations Manager at Bibby HydroMap

Related Pages: DriX