Autonomous Techniques for anthropogenic Structure Ecological Assessment (ATSEA)

The decommissioning of thousands of offshore installations at the end of their life is a major challenge worldwide. It is important to carry out appropriate environmental assessment and monitoring programmes to ensure that changes in the environment are understood and that unexpected impacts are detected and mitigated. Given the large number of impending decommissioning cases, there is a pressing need for a highly efficient survey and monitoring procedure that limits potential costs but also fits the regulators' needs. Recent advances in marine autonomy offer the prospect of substantial efficiency gains over current practice but this remains untested.

Our aim is to assess the feasibility and efficacy of fully autonomous monitoring of multiple decommissioning-related sites without the aid of a support vessel by demonstrating the use of an existing shore-launched, long-range, fully autonomous underwater vehicle for marine environmental survey.

Our objectives are to:

Carry out the first fully autonomous environmental monitoring of multiple decommissioning-related sites without the aid of a support vessel.

Combine autonomously collected seafloor visual imagery, mapping and water column sensor-based measurements to produce an integrated environmental assessment at sites relevant to decommissioning.

Directly compare the autonomously-collected data with corresponding data obtained by current standard methods in the same areas.

Demonstrate how a fully autonomous approach can lead to major advances in data quality, quantity and cost savings over traditional approaches.

Work with industry and regulatory stakeholders to understand how the novel autonomy-based approaches can improve and develop standard industry practice.

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