Four Norwegian companies – including offshore vessel owner Olympic Subsea – are collaborating to investigate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to transport cargo between offshore vessels and offshore installations.
In addition to Olympic Subsea, the partners in the ‘Safer Logistics from Unmanned Logistics Helicopter’ research project include Griff Aviation, Norut (the Northern Research Institute), and STABLE, which specialises in motion-compensation technology.
Griff Aviation develops and manufactures drones that have capacity to carry heavy cargo. Norut is leading the project and has experience in developing autonomous control systems for unmanned air vehicles and of operating them in challenging weather conditions in northern waters.
The project is drawing on expertise from the research community at the faculty of engineering and technology at the Arctic University of Norway in Narvik, which has extensive experience in automated drone operations.
STABLE’s role is to develop a control system so that drones can operate from a moving platform. The company is developing a stable platform for take-off and landing of the drone. The platform would be placed in a container on a ship’s deck, which would also act as a hangar for the drone.
Olympic Subsea is an active development partner in the project, which is supported financially by the Research Council of Norway.
The partners in the project note that weather conditions play a major role in determining when cargo can be lifted from the deck of a vessel onto a rig or other installation.