Subsea Monitoring System for Nautilus Minerals

Tree C provides subsea monitoring technology to Nautilus Minerals inc.. The system will be applied in the pioneering deep sea mining project Solwara 1, that has to deal with all typical deep sea challenges, like a low visibility environment, a hazardous work site and expensive equipment.

The project

Three remote controlled mining machines will cooperate to mine the sea floor for high grade deposits containing copper, gold, zinc and silver. The machines are remotely operated at a depth of 1.800 meters and connected to the production support vessel with umbilicals. Conditions are hazardous, because of the rough terrain and lack of visibility.

Our solution

Tree C’s approach is targeted at de-risking and increasing efficiency of the operation. Our solution is to provide a reliable virtual representation of the live operation, including a clear view of the positions of the machines in action and the attached hoses, umbilicals and other seabed assets. Also the sea floor is visualized through scan data, updated in real time.

Besides live monitoring, the planning mode allows to plan and optimize operations in advance. The end result is an operational support system that is scalable and allowing any number of operators to use the system simultaneously.

Tree C’s virtual view on the work site is vital for successful operation and the planning tools enable the operators to execute their challenging missions with confidence.

“Prevent downtime and maximize production.”


Real time visualization of the worksite
The system provides an accurate 3D representation of the work site including all stationary and moving machines. The operator navigates through the virtual work site and creates views from any perspective.

Enhanced view on low visibility environments
Because of the depth and turbidity resulting from asset actions, subsea camera views are useless for accurate monitoring. The 3D views however provide a crystal clear view on the work site, displaying accurate positions and movements of the machines.

Smart views
The system can be configured to create multiple, smart views on the operation. With schematic color usage the terrain can be reviewed systematically. Colorization is configurable to indicate terrain steepness, cutting depth, target depth or soil type. With cross section views the operator can monitor the work site and equipment in action from any plane and angle.

Physics simulation of cables
To prevent damage by collisions, flexible hoses, lift wires or umbilical cables are simulated at high accuracy. This way their shape is monitored continuously and proximity to hazardous objects will be detected in time.

Customized alarm system
Hazardous areas can be marked by the operators. Through augmented reality dedicated warnings are triggered to prevent the equipment from entering those keep-out areas.

Real-time terrain updates
The virtual seabed is modified in real time both as a result of the actions of the simulated equipment on the terrain and as a result of actual sonar scan data that is be used as input for the terrain updates, providing real time feedback on the production.

“A complete overview of the work site with live positions of all assets.”

Mission Planning:

Path planning
With the path planning tool a track to relocate assets can be prepared, edited and tested. This track can be distributed to any operator station in the system.

Area marking
In preparation of a mission, areas in the virtual terrain model can be marked, for example as target area or as keep out-area. Also alarm triggers can be added that will activate a warning when approaching those areas.

Practice runs
The system can switch to simulation mode to practice moves or cutting actions before returning to the live monitored work site.

Feasibility studies, safety and analysis
Different approaches can be tested and compared in the virtual environment giving valuable insights on methods, efficiency and risks in a realistic setting before the actual job is started.

All actions can be recorded for later playback during debriefing, contributing to the efficiency and safety of the ongoing and future operations.

“Plan, test and practice with Tree C’s mission planning tools.”