Autonomous underwater robot developed to combat biofouling on ships

Joshua Falcón.

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robot submarino

ScrubMarinea new company in the maritime sector, is leading the development of an autonomous underwater robot designed to eradicate microorganisms, plants and algae adhering to the hulls of ships, boats and submarines.

This cutting-edge technology is intended to significantly mitigate fuel costs, maintenance requirements and environmental impact. The company has secured a coveted place in the first cohort of DeepTech LaunchPad at Heriot-Watt University, an innovative pilot program that promotes the commercialization of ideas in robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced engineering.

Biofouling: challenges in the shipping industry

The proliferation of organic growth on marine vessels, known as biofouling, presents a significant challenge to the shipping industry. shipping industry. This phenomenon can cause substantial damage to hull structures and ship propulsion systems. The accumulation of biofouling can also cause a considerable increase in drag, reducing the speed of vessels by up to 60%.

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It can also generate an increase in fuel consumption of up to 40%. All of these ramifications can have a significant impact on the efficiency and profitability of the shipping industry, making biofouling a major concern for marine vessel operators.

DeepTech LaunchPad: underwater robot innovation

As part of a six-month pilot, participants from a range of sectors, including robotics, self-care, food services, marine technologies and medical devices, will have access to the expertise of Heriot-Watt University’s experts at its three global campuses, as well as research outputs from four worldwide research institutes, including iNetZ+.

Participants include Borobo Ltd, focused on the development of a new robotic platform, and ScrubMarine, which is dedicated to the creation of a specialized “underwater robot” to combat biofouling on maritime vessels.

GI Healthcare Industries employs semi-autonomous kitchen robots for institutional catering services, while Infinity DPM is working on the development of advanced upper extremity prosthetics. Janki Group is immersed in building an artificial intelligence-driven tattoo robot system for the personal care industry, and Wynter Robotics is focused on designing mobile robotic solutions aimed at applications in the construction industry.

Business transformation: advice and support

These companies are being advised and supported by a team of commercialization specialists to prepare them for investment through proven prototype products, strong industry partnerships and a clear route to market.

The launch of DeepTech represents an exciting milestone in strengthening the innovation ecosystem in Scotland and consolidating Heriot-Watt as a global leader in the commercialization of deep technology research. As an international institution with a multi-campus presence and global collaborations, Heriot-Watt is uniquely positioned to facilitate entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into innovative and commercially viable solutions,” said Jamie Allan, DeepTech LaunchPad program leader.

This pilot program seeks to drive cutting-edge research in deep technologies towards global commercial success. To this end, a cohort of six individuals is offered access to world-class facilities such as the National Robotarium, as well as an extensive network of international connections with experts, alumni and industry. The main objective is to foster collaboration and to make way for science to create transformative solutions with a real impact on the world.

Accelerating business development in Scotland

The creation of a deep tech accelerator, (such as an underwater robot with a meaningful task) is a crucial element that was missing from Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This initiative will enable the country to create companies capable of competing on an international scale by giving external entrepreneurs access to the same expertise and facilities as internal teams. In this way, DeepTech Launchpad levels the playing field and facilitates the development of high-growth businesses with the potential to change the world.

Following the evaluation of the pilot, applications for the next cohort are expected to open in mid-2024. With the success of this first round, Heriot-Watt plans to expand the program and extend it to other Scottish universities, generating new opportunities.

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