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Robotic ships could inspect underwater pipelines without a crew

Autonomous ships that can deploy uncrewed underwater vehicles could be used to inspect pipelines, cables and seabed drilling activity

Technology 4 March 2022

Ocean Infinity's marine robotic vessel

Ocean Infinity’s marine robotic vessel

Ocean Infinity

Engineers are developing a fleet of 85-metre-long vessels that will deploy underwater vehicles for tasks like pipeline inspection while their operators remain onshore.

The US Navy has previously repurposed a cargo vessel to pass through the Panama Canal largely uncrewed. The new fleet, however, is being developed to be robotic from the outset, a first for vessels of this size.

Norwegian shipbuilding firm VARD is constructing the six multi-purpose offshore vessels (MPOVs) for marine robotics company Ocean Infinity, based in Southampton, UK. The vessels have a …