Latest R&D tests reveal stability, control and optimum performance at heart of next gen EV-ROV technology


The release of the next generation of Work Class ROV comes significantly closer this week, as subsea technology specialists SMD prepare to reveal its field test ready electric Quantum EV ROV.

The ground breaking technology that underpins the high performance electric ROV was unveiled in September 2019 at OE19 and since then SMD has been developing this prototype Quantum EV, for rigorous, multi-layered testing of simulated real-world conditions.
The high capability Quantum EV is part of SMD’s environmentally responsible solution to next generation subsea robotics. It is designed around five key principles covering performance, reliability, flexibility, ease of use and cost.

The first phase in a robust series of stress-tests on the full range of components that make up the innovative modular EV ROV design is now complete. Data released by SMD reveals that all components are now certified to perform at depths of 6,000 metres and have passed gruelling environmental testing. The development of the propulsion system allows for optimum performance as well as longevity, stability and consistency. Quantum EV can reliably run for longer, without the need for manual intervention.

The vehicle is equipped with a range of cutting-edge technologies including the completely new 200kW high power electric thrust system, a new long-distance DC transmission solution and locally managed DC power system.  Quantum EV has a 15% increase in performance while using half the energy of a current Work Class ROV. The new platform also features advanced flight processing for high quality survey, battery compatibility for tetherless operations and is future proofed to accept AI command technology.

The next phase of development has started. Dynamic tests will take place during a series of wet trails, many in open water over the coming months. First deliveries are expected to begin in 9-12 months.

What’s more, the SMD EV programme forms part of SMD’s long-term strategy to engineer a series of adaptable technologies based on an open-electric framework for whatever shape vehicle is required and that can be adapted for a variety of operations. Quantum EV will soon be joined by other models in the range. As well as being used to maintain traditional subsea infrastructure, this new generation ROV technology is being developed for use with robotic Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs). It’s ability to interface with autonomous, onboard decision making, make the Quantum EV the ideal partner for the new breed of over-the-horizon technologies, without compromise on the ability to do high quality work.

Mark Collins, SMD’s Director for Remote and Autonomous Technologies has been involved throughout the development process. He said; “Over the past four years our engineering and innovation teams have been on a journey to develop a high performing, stable vehicle that gives our customers ultimate control across a range of sectors and tasks.
The development of the EV-ROV has taken place very much in collaboration with our customers and our partners – their needs continue to be at the heart of this ground-breaking technology. Since September we have put a large amount of effort into testing components in a range of real-world scenarios. We are confident it will significantly outperform the current models, even in the most challenging of subsea situations.
We have focused on developing a tool that can be relied upon to take operational efficiency to a new level that’s easy to own and use. The technology will support our client’s ambitions and is suitable for traditional vessel, Unmanned Vessel and resident applications. One of the novel things about the EV technology is its modular flexibility. We’ve created future-ready, component-based, modular architecture which can be extrapolated for different uses; easily transferred for use in AUVs and USVs.
The resulting electric workclass vehicle will work in the strongest currents with performance surpassing even the best hydraulic vehicles.”

Stephen Wilson, SMD’s Innovation Manager commented on the launch of this new EV technology; “Utilising the latest technology, we have spent a significant amount of time and input advancing the prototype unveiled in 2019 and developing the impressive machine we have today.
This has involved drawing on our considerable experience, developing electric motors and ROV thrusters for over 20 years as well as working with the very best engineers in the business. As specialists in high power motor drive technology, our parent company, CRRC Tec, have given us access to high power systems technology that would be otherwise inaccessible to the subsea sector. All of this, combined with financial support from our parent and Innovate UK has put us in a unique position to bring a world class electric ROV system to the market.”