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Press Release: 8th November 2021

Marine-i helps STL develop futuristic robotic arm for offshore operations

Marine-i has agreed to support the next stage of development for a futuristic robotic arm designed by Submarine Technology Limited (STL).

Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Marine-i is designed to help the marine technology sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly grow through harnessing the full potential of research and innovation.  

STL’s innovation is a ship-based multi-axis robotic arm for autonomous operations. It will form an integral part of a new Autonomous Synchronised Stabilised Platform (ASSP) to enable intervention tasks to be carried from Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASV). Typical intervention tasks will include equipment transfer and payload management, survey and inspection, launch and recovery.

The aim of this next stage was to develop a Remote Sensing System to 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 sophisticated robotic control systems.  This will enable the movement of objects to be tracked.  Movement data will be fed back into the control system allowing robotic arms to synchronise with the object.  These could include Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, Remote Operated Vehicles, and Floating Wind Turbines.

As well as grant funding, the Marine-i team created a bespoke RD&I programme for STL’s new technology which comprised:

  • 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.”

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. Our work with STL is helping to put Cornwall at the forefront of developing a new marine technology for the International offshore energy sector, as well as offering functions in a number of other offshore sectors, including oil and gas and aquaculture.”

[Image: STL ASSP Remote Sensing System]
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