Fish farm drones assist in wreck recovery

Drones used on fish farms are being deployed to help the Norwegian armed forces recover a wrecked frigate Photo: Blueye Robotics Drones used on fish farms are being deployed to help the Norwegian armed forces recover a wrecked frigate Photo: Blueye Robotics

An underwater drone normally used for inspection work at fish farms has been chosen to assist the Norwegian armed forces in marine salvage operations.

Trondheim-based technology company Blueye Robotics has provided two Blueye Pioneer underwater drones to help recover the wrecked frigate KNM Helge Ingstad.

“Our underwater drone is normally utilised to inspect cages and fish welfare at fish farms or vessel hulls,” said Erik Dyrkoren, co-founder and chief executive of Blueye Robotics.

“Although the nature of this assignment is quite unusual, our drone is designed specifically for this type of inspection work. Compared to the total cost of the salvage operation, this is a very modest investment for the Norwegian Armed Forces as our drones are priced at a level where private individuals can afford to buy it.”

At 45 x 25 x 35cm and nine kilos, the drone's size and weight makes it suitable for inspecting previously inaccessible spaces such as the torpedo room.

Drone for fish farmers

Today, the fish farming industry normally carry out visual underwater and seabed inspections by fixed camera systems, divers or remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). While utilising divers is inefficient and represents significant risks, ROVs have traditionally been very costly and required extensive training, and often an external operator, to manage. Fixed cameras are not always suitable, having natural limitations when it comes to reach and flexibility.

“The cost of our drone is significantly lower compared with divers and ROVs. Combined with an opex close to zero, the drone can make inspection of fish cages more frequent and less cumbersome,” concluded Mr Dyrkoren.

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