To support the digitalization trend in the industry, a higher degree of automation is required. Equinor has launched an Underwater Intervention Drone (UID) initiative backing this trend and paving the way for new, flexible and cost-efficient operation and maintenance philosophies. To cater for this technology the subsea control system infrastructure must be prepared for.

The target of the UID initiative is to develop concepts and solutions to establish cost effective technologies equally striving for standardisation of products and interfaces. The UID initiative aims to have a system approach and examine the impact on all elements of a subsea development, i.e. covering topside, umbilical, SPS, docking station and drone. This will safeguard the benefits during technology implementation and operation. As part of that, the UID control system needs to be designed under consideration of aspects such as safety, application, robustness, simplicity, standardization, cost of ownership and project execution philosophy.

While most of the main technology elements are available and proven in use there is a great potential for interface standardization by introduction of new equipment such as the Subsea Docking Station (SDS). New interfaces between well-established subsea disciplines such as subsea control and distribution, subsea production, and intervention systems will have to be handled to ensure seamless integration. This provides the possibility of open-standard solutions ensuring interoperability and interchangeability from day one.

With focus on UID control system infrastructure, this paper will present the current status of the UID initiative with focus on the UID subsea control system covering:

  • the fundamental features of the UID control system technology and concept

  • the consequences of UID technology for the design of production control systems

  • status of the UID subsea control system initiative with respect to technology maturity

  • the activities required to close the identified technical gaps

  • the implementation strategy

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