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Automatic tool with adaptive suspension system for high-quality inspection of underwater risers

Vivian Suzano Medeiros (Center for Telecommunication Studies, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Alan Conci Kubrusly (Center for Telecommunication Studies, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Raphael Lydia Bertoche (Center for Telecommunication Studies, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Miguel Andrade Freitas (Center for Telecommunication Studies, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Claudio Camerini (Center for Telecommunication Studies, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Jorge Luiz F. Brito (Petrobras, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Jean Pierre von der Weid (Center for Telecommunication Studies, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 9 April 2021

Issue publication date: 3 August 2021

55

Abstract

Purpose

The inspection of flexible risers is a critical activity to ensure continuous productivity and safety in oil and gas production. The purpose of this paper is to present the design and development of a novel automatic underwater tool for riser inspection that fits the most commonly used riser diameters and significantly improves inspection quality and reduces its operating costs.

Design/methodology/approach

The mechanical and electronic design of the inspection system is discussed, as well as its embedded sensors and control system. The tool is equipped with a suspension system that is able to adapt to the riser diameter and negotiate obstacles on the pipe wall. Numerical simulations were carried out to analyze the mechanical design, and a hardware-in-the-loop simulation was developed for tuning the control system. Further, experimental results are presented and discussed.

Findings

Experimental tests in laboratory tanks and shallow seawater have confirmed the effectiveness of the tool for detailed real-time inspection of underwater pipelines.

Practical implications

The use of the proposed tool will potentially reduce the time and costs for riser inspection, currently performed by divers or high-cost ROVs.

Originality/value

The authors present a reliable tool able to perform automatic inspections up to 250 m deep in less than 30 min, equipped with a high-definition visual inspection system, composed of full-HD cameras and lasers and a suspension mechanism that can negotiate sharp obstacles in the pipe wall up to 25 mm high. The tool uses a comprehensive control system that autonomously performs a full inspection, collecting sensors data and returning safely to the surface. Its robust design can be used as basis for several other nondestructive techniques, such as ultrasound and X-ray.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Petrobras for the funding and support for this project.

Citation

Medeiros, V.S., Kubrusly, A.C., Bertoche, R.L., Freitas, M.A., Camerini, C., Brito, J.L.F. and von der Weid, J.P. (2021), "Automatic tool with adaptive suspension system for high-quality inspection of underwater risers", Industrial Robot, Vol. 48 No. 3, pp. 442-453. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-09-2020-0204

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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