A new robotic solution for marine energy biofouling is being tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
The two-year RoBFMS (Robots to Inspect, Maintain and Repair in Extreme and Challenging Environments) project will develop an automated robotic system to monitor, identify and clean biofouling from subsea structures, building on the learning gained from the development of a prototype robot in earlier experimentation.
Led by Innovative Technology & Science Ltd (InnoTecUK), the project consortium brings together EMEC and Brunel University London, to explore and define the marine renewable energy (MRE) sector’s requirements of cleaning hardware in tackling biofouling.
The presence of biofouling can decrease the efficiency of energy generation and lead to corrosion which can reduce the survivability of technologies.
The RoBFMS system will consist of a variety of sensors, navigation systems and camera equipment in order to monitor and detect fouling on submerged structures.
RoBFMS will also be capable of identifying defects within technologies in environments where human intervention presents high safety and cost concerns.
The system will contain cleaning systems, which will be able to remove biofouling through the deployment of a focused high-power ultrasonic cleaning technique.
The robot is expected to be deployed for real sea testing on marine energy technologies at EMEC’s test sites in Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland, in early 2020.
“We are excited with the progress made so far and are keen to exploit the commercial benefits our system will bring to a host of sectors working within the marine environment,” says Katie Hiscock, RoBFMS project manager at InnoTecUK.
This project is being funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund under Innovate UK’s ‘Demonstrator for robotics and AI in extreme and challenging environments’ competition.