Visualization and control of remotely operated underwater vehicles at the Dutch company Bluestream

March 11, 2019 | Reliance SCADA

Bluestream is a Dutch company active in the subsea and offshore sector, specializing in remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV), diving, and industrial rope-access services.

Bluestream's ROVs are made by Saab Seaeye, the world's largest manufacturer of electric underwater robotic systems. They are robust and reliable pieces of equipment. The embedded electronics that control the vehicles are housed in waterproof boxes that tolerate pressures up to 2,000 msw. However, the ROV system itself lacks system diagnostics to inform the operator of the ROV's status (power supplies, voltages, currents, temperatures, etc.), which is useful to know when having to control or look for faults in the ROV system.

Control system

At the end of 2017, Bluestream implemented a system for the monitoring and control of remotely operated underwater vehicles. The system is called MonitoROV.

The goal was to create a SCADA interface with a PLC built into the existing electronics housing. Due to a lack of space, an Arduino-based PLC card – communicating via Modbus – was developed in-house by Bluestream. The motivation for using Reliance SCADA was this article.

The finished product now displays the following information to ROV operators:

  • Voltage for thrusters (500VDC power lines)
  • Current for thrusters (500VDC power lines)
  • Voltage for 3-phase pumps (660VAC 3-phase lines)
  • Pitch and roll on an artificial horizon (completely created with Reliance)
  • Status of power supplies/fuses on output ports (on/off)
  • Power-supply analog values (0–24 VDC)
  • Temperature, humidity, and pressure in the electronics housing (the housing is filled with vacuum to ensure its waterproof capability and to detect potential leakage)
  • Accelerometer data
  • Alarms in case of critical sensor values

In addition, it stores all critical values in graphs and databases.

At the moment, the items listed above are purely for visualization, but when the hardware deems reliable, Reliance will also be used to control:

  • Switching on/off the power supplies
  • Isolating DC lines for the thrusters
  • Additional thruster with loop feedback from the pitch sensor (pitch control)

The system runs on a 2-wire RS-485 network with two slaves. The network channel uses fiber optic cables and is intended solely for communication with Reliance.

The entire system is under development and will expand in the near future.

Examples of visualization windows

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Bluestream's ROV