Underwater / Subsea Crawlers

An underwater crawler vehicle, or subsea crawler, is a specialized robotic vehicle designed to traverse along the seabed. Typically equipped with imaging systems, sensors and manipulator arms, underwater robotic crawlers are used to perform a wide variety of tasks including seabed mapping, pipeline inspection, and infrastructure maintenance.
Overview Underwater / Subsea Crawlers
By Staff Writer Last updated: June 26th, 2024

Crawler vehicles for underwater applications are specialized robotic vehicles designed to operate on the seafloor, using wheels or tracks to traverse the complex and extreme terrain often found on the seabed.

Subsea crawlers are usually equipped with a range of sensors, including environmental monitoring technology, imaging and acoustic sensors, navigation equipment, and other mission-specific tools needed to collect the required information.

Underwater crawler vehicles are used to gather data for a wide range of applications, including research, environmental monitoring, defense, and infrastructure inspection.

Bayonet 250 Amphibious Robotic Crawler Vehicle by GreanseaIQ

Bayonet 250 Amphibious Robotic Crawler Vehicle by GreanseaIQ

Subsea Crawler Applications

Mapping
Subsea crawler vehicles can be used in underwater mapping, utilizing camera and sonar payloads to capture high-resolution images and data from the seabed. Increased understanding of the ocean in fields like archaeology, marine geology, and environmental monitoring relies on the accurate topographical maps that this data creates through systematically scanning and collecting imaging information of large areas of seafloor.

Defense
In defense and security applications, subsea crawlers are most often utilized in mine detection and surveillance operations. Their advanced detection and imaging systems allow robotic crawlers to scan the ocean floor for hazardous objects, increasing the likelihood of safe passage for naval vessels.

With respect to subsea surveillance, their ability to operate covertly and depths inaccessible to humans makes them an invaluable asset in maritime security operations. They are also useful in monitoring activity in strategic locations and detecting unauthorized objects or movements.

Bayonet 150 Subsea Crawler by GreanseaIQ

Bayonet 150 Subsea Crawler by GreanseaIQ

Offshore Infrastructure
Underwater crawlers are vital to a wide variety of industrial applications, in particular the oil and gas industry. Subsea robots can maintain and inspect underwater pipelines and rigs and, with suitable attachments, perform welding and cleaning. This reduces the need for human divers, thus improving operational safety.

Furthermore, crawler vehicles can be used for subsea construction projects, where they assist with operations like inspecting structures and laying cables.

Research
Subsea crawlers are crucial for expanding our understanding of marine ecosystems in scientific research. These robotic crawlers can function perfectly at depths that are hazardous for human divers, enabling scientists to investigate deep-sea organisms and habitats, such as coral reefs.

The ability to add robotic arm attachments emables the collection of marine life, water, and sediment samples, which can be studied to further understand biodiversity and the impact of climate change, among other things. In addition, many crawlers can use CTD sensors, as well as equipment to measure salinity or pressure.