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SAFESUB: Safe and Autonomous Subsea Intervention

How can we make autonomous underwater robotic intervention more robust by understanding and utilizing the uncertainty involved in the sensing-perception-manipulation pipeline? This is the topic for the SAFESUB project.

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Ill.: SINTEF. The picture of the ROV is from IKM Subsea AS

There is an increasing industry push for smart robotic solutions able to operate in complex and unstructured scenarios. To meet this need, we will in the SAFESUB project move beyond the research front and build vital interdisciplinary competence in the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics to safely increase the autonomy of robotic interventions and reduce operational risk. More specifically, we will develop novel AI-based uncertainty-aware methods for 3D vision, object localization and manipulation.

The main SAFESUB research challenge is how to make the methods robust to uncertainty by efficiently estimating – and utilizing – the aggregated uncertainty of AI (Artificial Intelligence) predictions throughout a sensing, perception, and control pipeline. By solving this challenge, we will reliably determine the risk associated with robotic interventions and thus safely increase the autonomy of interventions in complex and high-risk operations.

We will verify and demonstrate the project results on industry-relevant use cases with intervention using Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). We will carry out both field trials in the North Sea and underwater laboratory experiments. SAFESUB results will be developed and show-cased in tight collaboration between the research partners SINTEF and NTNU, and the industry partners Imenco and IKM.

Together, the partners constitute a long-track record on research and field-trials with autonomous underwater robots (SINTEF, NTNU and IKM Subsea), a marked leader in underwater camera solutions (Imenco) and a developer of autonomous vehicles with the first-ever commercially deployed resident ROV (IKM Subsea). SAFESUB focuses on subsea intervention for ocean industries such as oil and gas, offshore wind and aquaculture. However, the project results will be applicable to other fields requiring safe robotic intervention, such as aerial drones, healthcare, above-water inspection and maintenance, manufacturing, and space.

Project partners

Key Factors

Project duration

2023 - 2026


The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway (project number 338647) and co-funded by the industry partners, IKM Subsea and Imenco.

Cooperation partners

Imenco AS, IKM Subsea AS, NTNU

Project type