Skip to the content

World Record-breaking Underwater Drone got the UTC Award

Trond Pedersen Equinor and Donato Napoletano (Saipem). Photo by Morten Sæle.

– I get paid to do this, said Trond Pedersen, project leader at Equinor enthusiastically, as he accepted the UTC Award alongside Donato Napoletano, project manager at Saipem, at the Underwater Technology Conference yesterday.

The award recognizes their remarkable success with the Hydrone-R underwater drone, which set a world record by operating continuously for 165 days at a depth of 330 meters in the Norwegian Sea.

The UTC Award, presented annually, honours outstanding contributions and innovations in underwater technology. It is designed to recognize, celebrate and showcase the many outstanding achievements within the global industry.

This is what a good team can achieve together, if you have an idea with a good team and good backing - this is what you can achieve.

Longest Subsea Residency Ever Achieved

Equinor is a major energy company, while Saipem is the global leader in subsea engineering and construction. Together, they have achieved a significant milestone with their Hydrone-R underwater drone.

Trond Eriksen, Project Leader representing Equinor, and Donato Napoletano, Project Manager representing Saipem, are being especially recognised as key players in this project.

The Hydrone-R was deployed at Equinor’s Njord field in June 2023 and has since demonstrated endurance and efficiency.

It has set a new standard in subsea technology by operating for 165 days without any assistance, marking the longest subsea residency period ever achieved.

This autonomous drone has performed various tasks at a depth of 330 meters, transmitting data back to the control room without the need for standby vessels or crew.

Continuous Development and Future Outlooks

Equinor and Saipem have ambitious plans for the future of underwater drones. They are currently working on a tender process for charging stations and drones that will be deployed in the northern areas by 2026.

These drones will initially perform simpler tasks such as inspecting subsea structures, pipelines, and cables. Over time, they are expected to handle more complex maintenance tasks, including CP measurements, jumper replacements, and valve operations.

Their goal is to replace vessel operations with drones. Thereby, they can reduce the need for offshore personnel, enhance production efficiency and lower operational costs. As well as this, the drone minimizes carbon footprint, since the drones are electric and do not emit greenhouse gases directly.

Congratulations to the Winners!

With the recipe of the UTC Award, Saipem and Equinor have solidified their positions as leaders in subsea technology.

Their Hydrone-R project not only sets new records, but also paves the way for future advancements in underwater operations.

This signifies a major step forward in the quest for safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly underwater exploration.

Contact Information

Kai Stoltz

Business Development Manager

Kai Stoltz