Centre wins £36M grant for research into robotics in offshore energy sector
ORCA Hub (Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets) is a £36M programme aimed at addressing the offshore energy industry vision for a completely autonomous offshore energy field. The Hub brings together internationally leading experts from five UK universities with over thirty industry partners led by the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics in collaboration with Imperial College, Oxford and Liverpool Universities.
The Hub’s primary goal is to use robotic systems and Artificial Intelligence to revolutionise Asset Integrity Management for the offshore energy sector, in order to enable cheaper, safer and more efficient production.
The ORCA Hub will research, develop and deploy remote robotic solutions that will operate safely and efficiently within the complex cluttered marine, topside (on asset) and airborne environments of existing and future offshore energy assets. They will assist and co-operate with remote operational teams, in both autonomous and semi-autonomous modes, in order to assure and certify offshore assets and their own operations and maintenance.
Driven by the needs of industry, the Hub will focus its research around four key work packages:
Mapping, Surveying and Inspection of complex dynamic structures using robot teams equipped with distributed optical, acoustic spatial sensors and advanced non-destructive evaluation (NDE) sensors
Planning and Execution of efficient, localisable and coordinated motion of heterogeneous robotic teams (comprising wheeled and legged, aerial, marine systems) for sensor placement and manipulation in extreme and dynamic conditions - with specific emphasis on failure prediction, re-planning and recovery strategies
Intelligent Human-Robot Interaction to provide intuitive communication of world view, system actions and re-planning, between robot teams and operators, to develop efficient operation and avoid unnecessary downtime or delay
Robot and Asset Self-Certification to guarantee safe operation particularly where self-learning AI technology is employed, to predict and diagnose faults, and optimise operational use over remaining lifetime
Through the Hub’s Industrial Leadership and Opportunities Panel, the needs of industry will be continually monitored and will inform calls for joint industry projects to deliver commercial solutions.
The Hub has significant material commitment from partners and supporters across the offshore Energy and Robotics sectors, but very much welcomes further collaboration and engagement through:
• Membership of Steering and Advisory Committees
• Active participation in joint industry projects
• Sponsorship of applied research
• Informing the overall direction and priorities of the research programmes