Last week, Nauticus Robotics Inc. said it has entered into an agreement with Shell PLC to move to the qualification phase for a project to efficiently acquire subsea integrity data. Shell will use Nauticus' Aquanaut and Hydronaut robotic platforms to manage assets and potentially improve subsea operations.
“Working with a leading company such as Shell marks an exciting milestone for Nauticus, and this collaboration further validates the superior capabilities and extensive use cases of our robots across the energy sector,” said Todd Newell, senior vice president of business development at Nauticus.
“Implementing our supervised autonomous method – one that has proven more robust and dynamic than most of its kind – is expected to provide our partner and future customers more than 50% cost savings compared to today’s methods of operation,” he said.
Nauticus offers subsea robots as a service
Houston-based Nauticus develops cloud-based subsea robots, software, and services available through direct sale or a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) business model. The company said its RaaS approach has led to a range of products to retrofit or upgrade legacy systems and other vehicle platforms.
In addition, Nauticus said its services provide commercial and government-facing customers with data collection, analytics, and subsea manipulation capabilities to support and maintain assets. It claimed that it can also significantly reduce their operational footprint, operating cost, and greenhouse gas emissions while improving offshore health, safety, and environmental exposure.
Shell and Nauticus said they will collaborate with experienced inspection tooling service providers, integrating their technology into Nauticus’ robots and services.
After completing an initial feasibility study for the phase-gated project, the team will focus on remote operations of the robotic duo with supervised autonomy and tool control. The collaboration will use Nauticus' acoustic communication network as part of preliminary work for an offshore pilot project.
Shell to deply Aquanaut, Hydronaut
The Shell project will use Aquanaut, a fully electric subsea robot and the flagship of Nauticus. Aquanaut will be deployed from Hydronaut, Nauticus’ small surface vessel for transport, recharging, and communications for Aquanaut, among other tasks.
Together, the robots will function as a unified system for conducting subsea work for the offshore services industry, said the companies. Their inherent autonomous architectures will allow a transition to far more autonomous operations than conventional solutions, they noted.
“An exciting aspect of this project is the opportunity to combine the strengths of advanced inspection tooling with the advanced marine robotic capabilities developed by Nauticus Robotics,” said Ross Doak, deepwater robotics engineer in Shell’s robotics team. “This project aims to fundamentally improve how we collect subsea facility data, through the combination of ‘AUV [autonomous underwater vehicle]-native’ tooling design, supervised autonomy, and recent improvements in remote communications.”
Nauticus sets course with SPAC deal
In December 2021, Nauticus Robotics entered into a definitive business combination agreement with CleanTech Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that would result in Nauticus becoming a public company listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC under the ticker symbol KITT.
CleanTech Acquisition Corp. was formed in January 2021 with the purpose of entering into a business combination with one or more businesses. CleanTech Sponsor I LLC and CleanTech Investments LLC, an affiliate of Chardan, are the founders and co-sponsors of CLAQ.