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The World's Biggest Undersea Robot

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the getting-lots-of-work-lately dept.

Robotics 81

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to redOrbit.com, companies installing subsea cables for telecommunications companies and pipelines for the oil industry now have a new tool, the UT-1 Ultra Trencher which is the world's biggest subsea robot. This beauty weighs 60 tons (out of the water) and has a length of 7.8 meters, a width of 7.8 meters and a height of 5.6 meters. In fact, it has the dimensions of a small house but is more expensive, carrying a price tag of about £10 million. It can move at a speed of 2 to 3 knots under the sea. And it can trench pipelines with a 1-meter diameter in deep waters of up to 1,500 meters."

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81 comments

Sadly no, (5, Funny)

imamac (1083405) | more than 6 years ago | (#22825968)

...it does NOT run Linux.

Re:Sadly no, (3, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826004)

But you can stil welcome our new giant robotic under(water)lord!

Re:Sadly no, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826206)

haha!

The Terrible Secret of Oceans (2, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826622)

I was more interested in knowing if it was a pusher robot or a shover robot.

Grandma is protected at the bottom of the ocean.

Re:Sadly no, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826466)

but does it blend?

Re:Sadly no, (3, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826548)

but does it blend?
Quite effectively I would imagine, much to the dismay of sea cucumbers, and other seafloor dwelling creatures.

Re:Sadly no, (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22918192)

i am a little late but blend tec blenders will be at costco in alhambra, ca in april i believe. DO you think i can take my own samples to "will it blend?" Would be a nice segway to shredding hard drives. Maybe the white house used a blend tec blender!?!?!?

Re:Sadly no, (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828158)

I was really surprised to see that this wasn't developed by blacks. You know, what with them being "just like us", and just as intelligent as white people, it's odd, isn't it, that they didn't have anything to do with it.
I mean, if the entire human race was black, I'm sure we'd all be typing on Slashdot right now, wouldn't we? It's not as if there would be no computers, no cars, no airplanes, no space travel, no telephones, no television, no radio, no sirree...

any other featrures? (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826000)

How well can it repair pipelines? That's important as well.

Re:any other featrures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826018)

That's important as well.

Not as important as how it would do in a fight against MechaGamera.

Not A Robot (4, Insightful)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826024)

Robots have at least some degree of autonomy. This is a bad-ass RC vehicle.

Our future overlords are increasingly unimpressed with us taking their name in vain.

Incorrect... (4, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826112)

one definition of "robot" is

Re:Incorrect... (4, Insightful)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826374)

A weak, unhelpful definition in any context- I operate my computer remotely via a keyboard. If that was the only criterion, the concept of 'robot' as opposed to any 'machine', would be diluted to the point of uselessness.

But you linked, and so are informative.

Re:Incorrect... (4, Funny)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826546)

But you linked, and so are informative.
..and you disagreed, so you are insightful.

Re:Incorrect... (0, Offtopic)

mortonda (5175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826806)

...and you stated the obvious, so you are funny.

(please be kind, the next step would be that this post was not funny, and therefore modded off topic.)

Re:Incorrect... (2, Insightful)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826846)

Well, I deserved it. I've been stung by fanboy mods in the last few days, and was needlessly prissy. I laughed....

Maybe you could get some insightfuls, and we could carry on like this forever.

Re:Incorrect... (1)

mortonda (5175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830224)

Unbelievable. Both of those got insightful mods. What was this thread about again? Oh yeah, robots. Maybe that explains the mods.

Re:Not A Robot (2, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826318)

Robots have at least some degree of autonomy. This is a bad-ass RC vehicle.
"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't cut that undersea cable."

Not just autonomy... aesthetics! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827118)

I'll be impressed when the robots start modifying their trenches to be more aesthetically pleasing to other robots, and then they start publishing Robot Trenching Review and Dig Your Own Trench periodicals.

Re:Not A Robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826886)

If you think along the lines of the Robotech and Macross world, you don't need autonomy to get the label 'robot'. The robots in those series were controlled by humans in their cockpits (not even remote control really).

As for a dictionary defintion: a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, esp. one programmable. I guess by that definition, if you can program it to lay cables its a robot.

Damn all this techonology to build robots (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826950)

...and the first thing we decided to build was Cable Guy...

Re:Not A Robot (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830566)

I prefer the term "telefactor", but yes. (And RC is shorter, so it will win out once they become common.)

Re:Not A Robot (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22848650)

Isn't that 'teleffector'? Tele == remote, effector == that which does something?

In other news.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826032)

The Open UT-1 Ultra Trencher project announced that it has been accepted to Google's Summer of Code. Prospective students must have access to their own UT-1 to be considered.

Pics (4, Informative)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826056)

There's a picture on ZDNET's page. [zdnet.com]

Re:Pics (1, Informative)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826626)

There's a picture on ZDNET's page.
There's a picture on Roland's ZDNET page [zdnet.com] .

FTFY.

The image itself is here [blogsforcompanies.com] .

Re:Pics (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826988)

that's cool and all but I like Big O better lol. That's the real biggest undersea robot even if it's not actually real :P

Re:Pics (1)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827430)

I have to admit, I was more interested by the picure of Roland and his bright yellow glasses. Goofy lookin dude there...

Re:Pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828170)

How is it possible that for such a hi-tech piece of equipment on which, no doubt, scores of geeks must have laboured for months, then commissioned by more geeks, yet, there are absolutely no REAL pictures of this beast available other than rendered CAD drawings?
Don't any of those geeks own a camera or is this thing still only a reality on the drawing board?

A picture (3, Informative)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826058)

Since the linked article is a bit light on them:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=870

Spec sheet here [ctcmarine.com] (PDF 917KB)

Re:A picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827316)

which develops specialized remote controlled submersible robots (ROVs).

Where the hell did that V come from?

Re:A picture (1)

njh (24312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830128)

The four pump option delivers less output than the three pump option? Must be a typo I guess.

Re:A picture (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22832292)

Difference is the 3 pumps configuration being set to 1 Bar more pressure.

Re:A picture (1)

njh (24312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22833492)

I don't understand:

Water Pumps
  4800m3/hr@7bar (4 pumps)
  6000m3/hr@8bar (3 pumps)

4800 < 6000, 7 < 8, 4 > 3

So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (5, Insightful)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826110)

There are a huge number of undersea cables and pipes that currently reside on the surface of the ocean floor. How will they be affected by this device?

Furthermore, even if the "water knife" does not damage existing infrastructure, it will still be there when you go to run your new cable. Unless you manage to thread your cable under it somehow, there will be points where it will be exposed above the soil where it junctions with existing cable. Perhaps that's an acceptable issue today, but in a century when we have millions of miles of fiber-optics undersea, it may not.

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826120)

Perhaps that's an acceptable issue today, but in a century when we have millions of miles of fiber-optics undersea, it may not.

Hopefully by then we'll have better robotics (or better manned equipment) able to deal with that problem.

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22828096)

1. There already are millions of miles of undersea cables.
2. They are mapped. example [telegeography.com]
3. ROVs have cameras and scanning sonar so the pilot can see where he is going. They are not autonomous.
4. Sonar and magnetometer scans of the cable run are done preburial to verify the ground.

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (2, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826236)

wow there might be an issue 100 years in the future, better abandon the project.

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (1)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827178)

I'm glad the people who invented polythene bags thought that way.

Obligatory Movie Reference (1)

kmahan (80459) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826240)

Maybe it has a bumper sticker that says "We Stop For No One".

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (4, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826326)

There are a huge number of undersea cables and pipes that currently reside on the surface of the ocean floor. How will they be affected by this device?
Remember to Dial Before You Dig, and after you dig, dial again to make sure you severed the cable.

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (2, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827110)

Remember to Dial Before You Dig, and after you dig, dial again to make sure you severed the cable.

Wow, I didn't know my phone installer posted on slashdot! Hi there, remember me? Green house, picket fence, you cut my cable the DAY OF THE SOPRANOS FINAL EPISODE!!! AAAAUUUGGGHH!!!

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (1)

iamnafets (828439) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826350)

And... in a century we'll have new generations of these "water knives" that are more like "water scalpels". We don't seem to have too many problems above ground, maybe some analog of the "don't dig here" signs implemented through ultrasonic beacons or something. If the cable emitted a faint signal then it'd be fairly easy for future machines to stop when it "senses" the presence and either route around it or wait for an operator.

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827552)

Sounds like a great application for RFID.

Re:So if undersea cables criss-cross each other... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826520)

In a century the other cables will already have been buried by our cthonic robotic overlords.

dimensions of a small house... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826134)

it has the dimensions of a small house but is more expensive, carrying a price tag of about £10 million
Hmmm... judging by the UK housing market, it'll probably soon be cheaper to live in an undersea cable robot worth £10 million... sub-prime mortgages not withstanding...

Re:dimensions of a small house... (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828008)

Well, it was built in the UK [redorbit.com] .

Out of water? (2, Informative)

MasterC (70492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826212)

This beauty weighs 60 tons (out of the water)
Weight is the affect of gravity on a mass so it still weighs 60 tons but the water provides buoyancy so if you put it on a scale it won't read 60 tons. Granted the gravity will be different 1500 meters down but that wasn't the implication of "out of water".

Re:Out of water? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826256)

at 1500m below the pressure on it will be crushing, it would be under 100's of tons of pressure.

Re:Out of water? (0, Troll)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826356)

A ton is neither a unit of weight nor pressure.

Re:Out of water? (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826476)

Sure it is. 1 ton = 2000 lbs. Weight.

Re:Out of water? (3, Informative)

Aaron Isotton (958761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826648)

If we want to nitpick...a ton is *not* a unit of weight. It's a unit of mass. Mass != weight. The corresponding unit of weight is the "ton force".

Re:Out of water? (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826712)

Huh. Didn't know that. Thanks.

I can be nitpickier than you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827416)

Since this is a ship, they're probably using displacement tons, which is neither mass nor force. It measures Volume of water it displaces.

Re:I can be nitpickier than you (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829106)

I don't think so. The datasheet says:
Weight in air: 60t
Submerged weight: neutral

So what they could say is
Mass: 60t (== 60000kg, it's a British company so those are 99.99% certain to be metric tonnes)
Submerged weight: neutral

Re:I can be nitpickier than you (1)

JaBob (1194069) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830562)

Would you rather they say 60t buoyant force when submerged in seawater? Then OMG people would actually have to gasp think of what that means. I'd bet that they list that so you know how big a damn boat you need to haul that thing out to where ever you need to use it.

Re:Out of water? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830614)

If tons are measured in pounds, then tons are already units of force. And I've never heard of tons being measured in poundals or kilograms.

I suspect that the term "ton" was invented before the concept of mass was invented. (People still get mass and force confused, so it can't be obvious. I wonder who holds the patent.)

Re:Out of water? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830794)

Tons might be pounds, but 1 Tonne = 1000kg.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonne [wikipedia.org]
"A tonne (t) or metric ton (M/T), also referred to as a metric tonne or tonne de metrice, is a measurement of mass equal to 1,000 kilograms. It is not an SI unit but is accepted for use with the SI. The proper SI unit for a tonne would be a "megagram" (Mg, see SI prefix), but this term is rarely used in practice. Though the spelling tonne predates the introduction of the SI system in 1960 (it has been used in France for centuries, where it comes from), it is now used as the standard spelling for the metric mass measurement in English. The comparable imperial and US customary units are spelled ton in English.
In the USA this unit was defined in 1866 as a millier or a tonneau (both French words). This measure was used in Europe centuries earlier. However, neither of these latter words are in use in the USA and though they still appear in the statute, they have been declared obsolete by NIST." ...
"Like grams and kilograms, tonnes gave rise to a (now obsolete) force unit of the same name: 1 tonne-force = 9.80665 kilonewtons (kN), a unit also often called simply "tonne" or "metric ton" without identifying it as a unit of force. Note that it is only the tonne as a unit of mass which is accepted for use with SI; the tonne-force or metric ton-force is not acceptable for use with SI."

Re:Out of water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22830686)

Yah, I saw that and figured the poster was an ignoramus who doesn't know the difference between mass and weight, since he gave a mass and implied it was different out of water -- send the poster back to high school...

Re:Out of water? (1)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | more than 6 years ago | (#22836170)

It will be under more pressure than that. 1500MSW = ~150 ATM x 14.2 PSI/ATM = 2130PSI. This means that the device will operate at a pressure equivalent to the inside of an almost full LP steel* scuba tank. * Not all tanks are created equally. Generally speaking, LP Steel tanks fill to 2400 PSI, Aluminum to 3000, HP steel 4500, and some nifty carbon fiber tanks from the deep cave project go to 6000 psi. -ellie

Re:Out of water? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826448)

1) It's spelled "effect". Why can't people figure this out?
2) That's what weight means... The mass is the same. If there's another force in play, the weight will change. It's not hard to understand, why do you have it wrong? Why do you think orbit is called "weightless"?

got my hopes up... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826260)

... for mechaGodzilla.

The Abyss? (4, Funny)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826272)

Is it just me or does that look like it came right out of the movie The Abyss? It looks like a yellow, miniature version of their habitat. I'm sure the MPAA is working on their patent lawsuit.

Heh, the MPAA probably can't afford it (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826614)

I don't know what it costs to hire this thing, but don't count on the MPAA using it anytime soon.

Only the really big, evil, greedy types can afford this sort of thing - like oil companies and the telcos... I am sure they wouldn't spend money on expensive stuff like this just to deliver the goods people want, nah, I am sure they are more into the environmental aspects of digging up the ocean floor for fun and profit.

Re:The Abyss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827880)

Acually most of what you see in The Abyss are off the shelf subsea ROVs and equipment that existed before the movie. "Big Geek" is s Super Sea Rover and "Little Geek" is a Mini Rover Mark II. The layout and color scheme (yellow foam pack) are industry standards. Yellow is easy to see in water. For more fun search for ROV or DEEP DRONE in wikipedia. As a side note this monster is not a revolution in technology. It is too shallow, 1500 meters won't get you down to most subsea cables. Full ocean depth (ability to work in 98% of the worlds oceans) is more like 6000 meters.

Ah ha! the culprits! (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826492)

Remember about a month or so ago, all those undersea cables cut. Seemed far too coincidental for so many to be cut at one. Now someone unveils a machine to bury them to keep them protected! A motive me thinks, creating demand for their product?


I'm taking my gang over there in my VW microbus right now to unmask the cable cutting ghost as old man Jones, the creepy submarine maker.

Crafty excuse for the wife (2, Funny)

DTemp (1086779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826514)

Wife: Aww, you're gonna be out a couple days working again?

You: Yep, I'll be out laying pipe.

Without a photo (1)

Adam8g (1181859) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826542)

This story is worthless

Re:Without a photo (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826628)

This story is worthless
Yeah, what *is* with that?

...and, no, that CG image isn't a photo.

Sorry .... (1)

pauljuno (998497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826570)

Well, I've been waiting for it and haven't seen it yet. So I'm just gonna get it out of the way and be done with it.... I for one welcome our Underseas Robotic Overlords. Now, back to our topic! By the way, thanks to the fellow/gal who posted the link to the picture!

Not so fast, A bigger robot trencher precedes this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22826748)

In 1980 Brown & Root, Inc. built a sub sea trencher called the MUT. This ROV rode on dual tractor treads. Here is its astounding specs: length = 50ft, width 40ft, weight= 135 short tons.

Send it to Europa (1)

sanmarcos (811477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22826860)

Good, now send it to Europa where it can do some history making work.

Interesting, but how useful? (4, Informative)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827102)

Current undersea trenching is done using plows pulled by ships. I highly doubt that even this large robot is going to be able to match the power of a 60,000 ton ship pulling a plow. And considering the need to dig fairly deep below the seabed in order to protect from wayward anchors and fishing nets, I have to question the usefulness of this robot. It might be useful for smaller, brown-water cables where you need the protection but can't afford to hire a ship to plow the trench, but the big ocean-spanning cables probably won't use this robot.

Re:Interesting, but how useful? (1)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22827516)

I hate to answer my own question, but could it have to do with the physics of the situation? I'm no physicist, and I have no idea how to calculate the answer, but is it possible that this robot could have more straight-ahead force than a ship forced to tow a plow at an angle?

Re:Interesting, but how useful? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827960)

The trencher doesn't use a plow, no. It uses a pair of jet-cutters. A jet-cutter is a large pump connected to a very small nozzle that blasts the sea floor away with high pressure water. One jet-cutter on either side of the pipe or cable and the blast of water excavates the earth in between. Subsea cables are not usually buried more than a meter deep. The reason to bury them is to keep marine life and anchors off of them. Occasionally a cable may be set deeper at a crossing point or when coming into land near a harbor but that is the exception. The advantage a ROV has is that it can make sharp turns, a plow cannot. Also ROVs can bury an installed pipe or cable where a plow would certainly damage it. You are right though 1500m is far too shallow for most oceanic cable and some rigs. I'm betting that this is meant for oil rig pipe burial as oil rigs are ussually set in relativly shallow water ( 2000m ).

Re:Interesting, but how useful? (1)

nut (19435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22828300)

Umm, yeah right. Somebody spent 10 million pounds building huge fsck-off undersea robot, but they didn't bother to do any research into whether it would work, or if there was a market for it...

I think it's likely to be useful enough to pay for itself. Nobody puts up that kind of money without some fairly convincing evidence it will make a profit.

Re:Interesting, but how useful? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22829452)

Yup, even the robot home base ship will be several orders of magnitude more powerful than this little robot.

Re:Interesting, but how useful? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22834454)

I have to question the usefulness of this robot.

Even though you don't have any actual experience in the field. That folks with experience in the field are willing to spend 10 million pounds on the machine, plus more for a dedicated (and new build) support vessel should tell you something.
 
 

It might be useful for smaller, brown-water cables where you need the protection but can't afford to hire a ship to plow the trench, but the big ocean-spanning cables probably won't use this robot.

With your complete lack of knowledge in the field, you probably don't know that "brown water" and "ocean-spanning" are two ends of a spectrum - with quite a large amount of room in between them.
 
 

Current undersea trenching is done using plows pulled by ships.

Sure, except for all the undersea trenching that isn't done by plows - which is quite a bit of it actually. This is merely the largest such trenching ROV, not the first, not by a long shot.

Wait a minute... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22827674)

ROLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHN'D! again

60 tons of fun in the (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#22830164)

Deep, dark, and wet. is itt a thruster or an auger, a tapper or a slapper?
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