Boaty McBoatface Robotic Submarine to Visit

The UK National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has secured funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which will take robot submarine ‘Boaty McBoatface’ around end-of-life oil and gas fields. 

The Autonomous Techniques for infraStructure Ecological Assessment (AT-SEA) project, led by the NOC will trial the concept of using submarines like Boaty for high-tech, low-impact monitoring to pick up any potential environmental impacts at these sites, NOC said.

The NOC has received £670,000 in funding from the UK NERC as part of the Influence of Man-made Structures in the Ecosystem (INSITE) research program.

 As a result of this funding, the project team will carry out the first robotic mission in summer 2022. 

"This funding has allowed the use of state-of-the-art technology to provide future-proof solutions for the oil industry and will test whether these robotic approaches can gather equivalent information to the surveys currently facilitated on research ships. In doing so, emissions, risks, and the cost of these operations will be significantly reduced in the future, thanks to the technology being automated," NOC said.

Project lead for AT-SEA, Dr Daniel Jones from the National Oceanography Centre, explained: “There are currently thousands of oil and gas industry structures in the sea that are approaching the end of their lives – in UK waters alone there are nearly 500. As part of decommissioning, they typically need to be removed and the environment returned to a safe s....

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