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Robotic arm

Marine-i lends a hand to STL to help develop innovative robotic arm

Jack Wride
Authored by Jack Wride
Posted: Saturday, November 13, 2021 - 10:00

Marine-i has agreed to support Falmouth-based consultancy group Submarine Technology Limited (STL) in the development of a cutting-edge multi-axis robotic arm.

Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Marine-i aids businesses in the marine technology sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, offering them RD&I expertise and test facilities.

Prof. Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says: “This project by STL is at the cutting-edge of science. As far as we are aware, there is no directly comparable full system solution with identified innovative functions that is currently available.”

Designed by STL, the ship-based robotic arm will be used for autonomous operations and will form an essential part of a new Autonomous Synchronised Stabilised Platform (ASSP) which will enable tasks to be carried from Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASV).

Usual intervention tasks made by ASVs - equipment transfer and payload management, survey and inspection, launch and recovery – are anticipated to be a key component in the maintenance of offshore wind farms and other renewable energy technologies.

The next stage, which Marine-I will be assisting with, is to develop a Remote Sensing System. This will allow STL’s hydraulically-actuated robotic systems to achieve ‘Synchronous-Stabilisation’ without the need for data communication between the moving target and the host vessel.

The Remote Sensing System will add Machine Vision to STL’s advanced robotic control systems, enabling the movement of objects held by the arm to be monitored. Movement data will be fed back into the control system allowing robotic arms to synchronise with the object, which could include Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, Remote Operated Vehicles and Floating Wind Turbines.

The Marine-i team designed an RD&I programme tailored to STL’s new technology which included:

  • Evaluation of object tracking systems
  • Design and build of an object tracking system, together with modifications to the ASSP robotic arm
  • Trials in the Ocean Basin at University of Plymouth COAST Lab
  • Sea trials at the FaBTest site in Falmouth Bay

Peter Back, Technical Director for STL, says: “The structured RD&I programme that Marine-i have worked on with us is helping us bring our pioneering innovation to market quicker than might otherwise be possible. It's also fantastic to have access to world-class testing facilities here in the South West, to help us refine and test our approach.”

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