USV force multiplier

Project details


Sulmara Geo


Gulf of Mexico


2 months


Unmanned Surface Vessel solution (ixBlue DriX USV)

Key Points
  • Project Carbon Footprint Reduction (4.7M cubic metres Co2 saved)
  • Project duration reduced >75% (45 days versus 200 days)
  • Project cost reduced >90%
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Sulmara Subsea was mobilized to improve efficiency on typical pre-lay surveys for pipeline installation and trenching campaigns. This involved 250km (approx.) of route engineering survey work in water depths of 8m to 80m, requiring Sulmara Subsea to survey a corridor (center and wing lines) traditionally executed using a large ROV vessel at a speed of 1 knot. The compressed timescale required a solution which would efficiently provide accurate and reliable data to ensure the timely execution of installation works.



Sulmara Subsea conducted a detailed desktop study and analysis of the delivery potential using USV compared with a traditional ROV-based approach.
This demonstrated in water depths up to 90m, the DriX system with specific sensor configuration matched the client’s survey specifications. Having established the feasibility of the solution, Sulmara Subsea worked in partnership with the end client and the USV designer (iXblue) to develop operational procedures and methodologies designed to deliver the scope in the required timeframe. Controlled from the mother vessel, the DriX USV completed the geophysical survey of all wing lines while the ROVSV simultaneously provided the video survey along the route centerline. By using the USV as a force multiplier, Sulmara Subsea successfully reduced the number.


By leveraging the DriX average speed of 6 knots, the acquisition was successfully executed in 45 days. By comparison, the same scope utilizing a ROV and mother vessel travelling at an average speed of 1 knot, would have taken over 200 days to complete.

" Sustainability is a core value at Sulmara Subsea, and we believe that our growth and success should also contribute towards the betterment of our planet. Minimizing the environmental impact of our client’s operations is another key element of this vision. "
Kevin McBarron
CEO, Sulmara