Fugro, National Robotarium accelerate subsea remote and autonomous developments

Jan. 26, 2023
In early 2023 the Fugro Blue Essence uncrewed surface vessel will be used to conduct an industry first: a remotely operated autonomous offshore wind farm inspection.

Offshore staff

SOUTH HOLLAND  Fugro will continue growing its partnership with the National Robotarium, which was jointly established by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh.  

Its newest facility is located at Heriot-Watt and opened in September 2022. This innovation hub is the UK’s largest and most advanced applied research facility for robotics and artificial intelligence. 

In January 2020 Fugro and the National Robotarium realized the many synergies the two shared. For example, both were developing a smart subsea camera, but for different purposes: autonomy (National Robotarium) and high-accuracy data acquisition (Fugro).

Fugro described this as "a well-matched opportunity" for it, as the National Robotarium was building something that Fugro would use to differentiate its products in the subsea autonomy and inspection arena.

In May 2022, three National Robotarium engineers brought their autonomy camera over to Fugro's innovation facility at Nootdorp, the Netherlands. The aim was to see if it would "plug and play" with the Fugro system. Fugro set a five-day target and gave them access to its test demonstrator ROV and ensured that two Fugro engineers were always ready to support them with any integration issues (software or physical). After setup, analyzing and monitoring the data for two full days, both teams agreed that the machines were integrated and compatibility was confirmed.

Fugro’s Blue Volta fully electric ROV was dispatched from Singapore in time for the grand opening of the National Robotarium’s Heriot-Watt facility in late September 2022. The Blue Volta was moved to the Robotarium’s wave tank. Then Fugro fitted the National Robotarium’s camera onto its Blue Volta. Two months of testing were successfully completed by the end of November 2022.

In early 2023 the company will use its Fugro Blue Essence uncrewed surface vessel equipped with the Blue Volta to conduct an industry first: a remotely operated autonomous offshore wind farm inspection. Fugro will control the assets from its remote operations center in Aberdeen, while collecting real-time data from the offshore wind farm.

There are several other areas Fugro will look to collaborate in over the coming years, such as looking at low touch manipulation and vehicle control so the company can further develop its underwater intervention robotic capabilities.