San Donato Milanese, May 24th, 2021 – Saipem has been conferred the 2021 Spotlight on New Technology® Award by Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) for its Hydrone-R Underwater Intervention Drone (UID). OTC, one of the world’s leading energy events, will be held from 16-19 August in Houston, Texas.


The Hydrone-R is part of Saipem’s groundbreaking Subsea Robotics Innovation Program conceived to support remote, low-carbon and safe operations in the Offshore Energy Market. Hydrone-R, developed and engineered by Sonsub, Saipem’s centre of excellence for subsea technology innovation, is an underwater intervention drone capable of performing construction works as well as advanced autonomous inspections on a wide range of subsea assets thanks to the embedded, proprietary Artificial Intelligence features.

The vehicle can remain underwater uninterruptedly for up to 12 months, hosted on a subsea docking station, either proprietary or provided by the customer for battery recharging and mission data uploading/downloading, making it the first ever resident subsea drone. When set in resident mode, the Hydrone-R can be remotely supervised and operated from onshore via a Remote Control Room, leveraging on through-water communication links; as an alternative, it can work in fully autonomous mode within an intervention area of +10-km radius. Larger distances can be covered by introducing additional intermediate subsea docking stations. 

Hydrone-R sets a new paradigm in the planning and execution of underwater inspections and light construction campaigns. A vessel-free execution scheme along with the capability to be at the hot point where immediate checks, diagnostics and, possibly, intervention are required, thus minimizing asset downtime and unlocking a new frontier for less costly and more environmentally-friendly supervision and operation of in-service subsea assets. 

The Hydrone-R was selected by Equinor in October 2019 to be the first Underwater Intervention Drone (UID) commercially deployed in the Njord Field development, offshore Norway, understood to be the first ever worldwide service contract for subsea drones signed in the offshore energy industry. 

The award recognizes the latest and most innovative technologies that are advancing and revolutionizing the future of offshore energy. This year, 14 technologies from 13 companies around the world were selected. The winners are selected based on five key criteria: the technology’s novelty in the marketplace, innovativeness, demonstrated success, broad commercial appeal, and ability to make a significant impact across the offshore industry. Hydrone-R’s winning technology is a confirmation of the essential role this new generation of innovative subsea drones are called to play in this global transitional moment for the Offshore Energy Market.

Giulio Fatica, Head of Subsea Engineering and Technologies - Saipem E&C Offshore Division, commented, “Saipem is constantly developing transformative innovation solutions to improve our operating performance and reduce environmental impact. This is why we are especially proud that our Hydrone-R has received the Spotlight on New Technology Award this year. The Hydrone program is Saipem’s answer to the demand by operators for cutting-edge systems to assist during the life of complex subsea fields as well as helping to reduce vessel costs and the overall carbon footprint”. 

“Each year, the Offshore Technology Conference showcases the latest and most advanced technologies of the offshore energy sector”, said Leigh Ann Runyan, Executive Director of the Offshore Technology Conference. “As a winner of the 2021 Spotlight on New Technology Award, Saipem’s Underwater Intervention Drone (UID) Hydrone-R is helping lead the offshore energy sector into the future by advancing subsea safety and development”.