New £36m project to develop robots for offshore energy

A £36 million project is to develop robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for use in extreme and unpredictable offshore environments. A consortium of five universities, working with 31 industrial […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A £36 million project is to develop robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for use in extreme and unpredictable offshore environments.

A consortium of five universities, working with 31 industrial and innovation partners, will provide support to advance AI technologies for the inspection, repair, maintenance and certification of offshore energy platforms and assets.

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, will lead the consortium, which includes Imperial College London, the University of Oxford and the University of Liverpool.

They will work under the title of the ‘Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets’ or ORCA Hub to develop robot-assisted asset inspection and maintenance technologies that are capable of making autonomous and semi-autonomous decisions and interventions.

Professor David Lane from Heriot-Watt University and Director of the ORCA Hub said: “he international offshore energy industry faces many challenges, including near-permanent low oil prices, expensive decommissioning commitments of old infrastructure, particularly in the North Sea and small margins on the traded commodity price per kWh of offshore renewable energy. Coupled to this, the offshore workforce is ageing as the new generation of qualified graduates seek less hazardous onshore opportunities.

“The goal is to develop shore-operated autonomous and semi-autonomous solutions for inspection, maintenance and decommissioning of offshore energy infrastructure using marine, terrestrial and airborne robotic systems.”