Greensea Systems has partnered with its affiliate Armach Robotics and Maryland’s Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC) to provide these services to US Naval Research.
Together, they will develop and trial an autonomous hull-cleaning vehicle under a two-year programme. This follows work already undertaken by Greensea through a small-business technology transfer programme.
The group has a two-year contract with the US Navy to demonstrate the commercial viability of the technology and its value to naval ships.
“The objective is to develop a highly autonomous robotic system for proactively cleaning ship hulls, that can be operated easily and cost-effectively with minimal supervision,” said Armach Robotics director of regulatory compliance and outreach Karl Lander.
“The US Navy is investigating this technology as a means to keep ships clear of biofouling in an environmentally sustainable way, ensuring fleet readiness and ultimately reducing hull-related maintenance costs.” he said.
The focus of the earlier development work was to design, characterise, develop and test an on-hull navigation system for future robotic units.
“The focus of the newly awarded option period is to continue to refine the navigation and autonomy technology, demonstrate the capabilities through proactive cleaning of a vessel of significance to the US Navy, and deliver a complete data package for the cleaning system,” said Mr Lander.
Greensea has developed a hull-relative positioning system for use in a hull crawling robot, designed and built by Armach Robotics. An Armach hull cleaning robot will use a combination of inertia sensors and sonar to navigate around a ship’s hull.
It will be capable of determining and continually updating its position on the ship’s hull with extreme accuracy, enabling Greensea’s autonomy capabilities to free the operator from driving the robot.
MERC brings its expertise in biofouling control methods and will provide critical support in independent, scientific assessments of the robots’ navigation, autonomy and cleaning technologies.
On top of supplying the hull-cleaning robot, Armach Robotics will provide robot operators to conduct field operations throughout the contract period.