This brief chapter will examine only a limited number of areas those where significant progress in subsea automation has been made or where there is potential for further progress It is hoped this will stimulate ideas and discussion for the future, for as all too often in our industry there is too ready an acceptance of past practice, although it may be less efficient or more costly than what is achievable today because ‘it worked last time’ So it may have, but we must ask ‘Was it time efficient and was it cost effective’

Pilot Comfort

Our aim must be to replace man from loop whenever it is possible If this is not possible, then we must make him as comfortable as possible by removing monotonous tasks and by simplifying tiring or difficult tasks, although he must still be in control, but in a supervisory role if at all possible We must use computers to simplify the controls for the pilot, never forgetting his need for communications to the outside world and to other operating staff Finally, the provision of auto-fault monitoring takes the strain off the pilot, and above all significantly decreases system downtime I would suggest that auto-diagnostics should be mandatory for any work-cable ROV or RIV today, and for any ROV, including observation vehicles, in the near future.


All controls must be easy to see and to reach. The use of glass instrument panels reduces the size of a work station, and computer-generated graphics reduces both cost and complexity as well as reducing MTBF Pilot strain and communications loads can be reduced by the use of remote cameras for monitoring external systems (winches, etc) Good and controllable internal lighting in the control cabin is essential Good video displays ease strain, and finally, environmental control of heat, light and noise, is essential Incorporation of sound ergonomics into the vehicle design stage is practical today and must become more widespread

Removal of Individual Basic Pilot Tasks

We must take the load off the pilot to allow concentration on the real job at hand Basic vehicle control is the obvious choice as this is quite simple but requires considerable concentration if done manually, examples which should be standard on all of today's work-capable ROVs are

  • a auto-pitch,

  • a auto-roll,

  • a auto-depth,

  • a auto-altitude,

  • a auto-heading

This list can be extended by providing computer control of thrusters during long transitions to the worksite, and to offset the effect of water currents, this is called auto-crurse

Also, the subsea control of master-slave manipulators can be eased by getting the computer to calculate the position of the end effector continually in all three dimensions, and then by vectoring a camera onto this position, this is auto-camera-follow

Replacement of Conventional Multiplexers

Using the experience of conventional data links on earlier ROVs, Slingsby Engineering Limited (SEL) developed the SELMEC modular data link system for the TROJAN and CIRRUS vehicles.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.