Autonomous systems offer expanding capabilities to provide maritime services in a time where saving costs, creating efficiencies and improved safety are vital. Autonomous vehicles are complex systems and therefore their design and development requires careful and detailed planning. Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV) is a rapidly growing company based in the UK with offices in the United States and is a leading manufacturer of Unmanned and Autonomous Marine Systems. Utilising specialist expertise and experience in the design, build and operation of Marine Autonomous Systems, the C-Worker 6 Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) was developed for marine operations support in the Oil & Gas industry.

This paper explores the design and build process from a naval architecture, mechanical, electrical and software engineering point of view, from initial concepts to field operations. The authors also assess the presented method in a meta-design manner. With the initial concept and technology capabilities established, ASV collaborated with Oil and Gas service company Technip to establish industry requirements and define the final configurations accordingly through a dedicated technology qualification process. Technological advancements introduced in this 6 meter long vehicle known as the C-Worker 6, include the integration of multiple offshore payload combinations including USBL, ADCP (current meter), CTD, Multibeam Sonar, Acoustic Telemetry, and Passive Acoustic Sonar (PAM) for marine mammal detection. The robust design incorporating an aluminium, self-righting hull makes the vehicle suitable for harsh ocean environments. C-Worker 6 has a 30 day endurance at an average speed of 4 knots and houses fully redundant power propulsion and communication systems.

As a result of the methodology applied, the product development timeline is presented. The paper also presents data evaluated from real missions. Early qualification of the vehicle has shown its ability to perform in the high sea states of the Gulf of Mexico successfully carrying out subsea positioning in 1300m deep waters with 2.5m waves, as well as having performed Touch Down Point (TDP) monitoring support for S-Lay pipe installation during the technology qualification. The vehicle has since undertaken different mission witch includes a 5 day deployment in the Irish Sea where it held station and extracted data from a subsea platform via an integrated acoustic modem payload, a multibeam survey on a future wind farm installation and Pacific Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) in the Gulf of Mexico.

The interest for using unmanned and autonomous systems to support marine operations in Oil and Gas industry is anticipated to grow with the industry needs and requirements for more efficient, cost effective and safer solutions.

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