As you watch Eelume move its long black body underwater with its glowing eyes, nobody would think differently of you if you were a little unnerved — but don’t worry it’s just a robot.
The robot is a self-propelled aquatic mechanical snake designed for inspection work and basic repair jobs on the sea floor. A Norwegian company called Eelume developed the snake, but have now partnered with Norwegian companies Statoil and Kongsberg Maritime to fast-track production.
Watch Eelume in motion in this video by KONGSBERG Gruppen:
These serpents are able to swim around undersea equipment, perform inspection duties, do simple maintenance and repair tasks like cleaning and adjusting valves, among other chores. The developers believe because they can swim on their own — similar to a sea snake — or use thrusters for propulsion they will play an important role in reducing the cost of maintaining equipment and, reduce the need for large underwater vessels.
Elisabeth Birkeland Kvalheim, Statoil’s Chief technology officer, said in a statement:
“Eelume is a good example of how new technology and innovation contributes to cost reduction. Instead of using large and expensive vessels for small jobs, we now introduce a flexible robot acting as a self-going janitor on the seabed.
“To support smaller companies in bringing new technology to the market is an important part of our research portfolio.”
Because of their slender and flexible body the Eelume robot can provide access to confined areas that are difficult to access with existing technology. The idea is to have these robots permanently installed on the seabed where they can perform planned or on-demand inspections, and then perform interventions where needed.
Although the makers have yet to disclose many of the details about the aquatic snake, it can be clearly seen that their not self-powered yet. Having wires coming from the robot would certainly limit its range and possibly cause entanglement problems. However, watching their concept video, it’s clear to see the designers are hoping to do away with the power cables.