SWIMMER: Final sea demonstration of this innovative hybrid AUV/ROV system

A0007 Thierry Copros CYBERNETIX S.A.

A0008 Yves Chardard CYBERNETIX S.A.

With the increasing depth of offshore oil & gas fields (exploration: >

2500 msw;exploitation:record at 1850 msw), the cost of traditional ROV

operations for IMR tasks will represent a growing part of the total

field's operational expenditures and the maintenance of subsea

installations throughout the life of a field (typically 15 to 20 years)

will be one of the main technical challenges.

Cybernetix, a leading French subsea robotic manufacturer, developed,

in collaboration with Ifremer, the University of Liverpool and

TotalFinaElf, an innovative hybrid ROV / AUV concept, called Swimmer,

for deploying an ROV on a deepwater field without the need for long

and heavy umbilicals, special support vessels and their associated


A standard ROV is automatically carried by an AUV shuttle to a subsea

docking station installed close to equipments which require regular

IMR interventions (wellheads, manifolds,). The docking station is

linked to the surface via a permanent umbilical which allows powering

and real-time control of the ROV when the AUV shuttle is connected to

the subsea station.

Swimmer is not only a drawing board concept: it has now been fully

integrated and tested in workshop and in shallow water. In June 2001,

the complete acoustic systems have been tested offshore and the

shuttle flew for the first time in AUV mode in open sea. In September

2001, the first fully automatic docking have been performed in shallow

water at Cybernetix'Marseilles harbour facilities.

Finally, complete offshore demonstration has been performed during

second half of October 2001.

The aim of this paper is to present the Swimmer concept and the

results of the final sea trials.

ROV:Remotely Operated Vehicle (tethered)

IMR:Inspection, Maintenance and Repair

AUV:Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (un-tethered)