Bibby HydroMap hold DriX demonstration day at Catapult in Blyth
Following on from the successful trials of DriX at Gwynt y Môr, Bibby HydroMap conducted a demonstration of DriX at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult facility in Blyth, the company said in its release.
During the demonstration two Blyth offshore wind farm turbines were surveyed, owned by E.On Renewables. The aim of the survey was to complete a 100m box around each of the two turbines, unfortunately, the unfavourable weather conditions, and shallow nature of the turbines, hampered data collection around the structures.
The trial was the first occasion where DriX operations have been conducted from a shore-based location highlighting the flexible and simplistic deployment of DriX. In addition, it was the first time the Kongsberg Marine Broadband Radio (MBR) system was used as the communications link for DriX. Utilising the MBR vastly increased the operating range of DriX to approximately 20km, for the purposes of the demonstration the MBR was temporarily mounted to the roof of the ORE Catapult building to maximise its potential range.
Due to the disruptive nature of the technology being demonstrated it was critical that all parties involved where fully informed on the operations being conducted. Maritime UK currently has a voluntary code to follow when conducting operations utilising autonomous technology. During the planning stages, the guidelines were followed and all partied were correctly informed.
During operations QPS’s QINSy was running on board DriX, but operations were controlled by technical staff from the shore base enabling the full quality control multibeam echosounder data to be downloaded straight from DriX.
All data was downloaded using the MBR link once the mission was completed, with very little need for further processing, shortening processing timescales and speeding up delivery of critical information.
The demonstration built on the positives realised from the Gwynt y Môr trials, the use of the MBR communication link lifted the restricted operational limits on previous DriX missions. The unfavourable weather conditions on the day further highlighted the weatherability of DriX and its ability to compete with traditional survey vessels.
The Blyth offshore wind farm is set to be decommissioned within the coming months as it reaches the end of its technical lifespan. Blyth's two 2MW turbines were the UK's first offshore wind farm and were built by a consortium, including E.ON, off the Northumberland coast in 2000. During its operational lifetime, Blyth generated enough electricity to supply 2,000 households with renewable energy. The legacy of the first British offshore wind farm is a test area in the Blyth region for the construction, operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms. This hub for innovation at sea is a starting point which has seen the UK subsequently develop into a world leader in offshore wind.