ORE Catapult broadcasts live debate on future role of robots in the UK’s offshore environment

Published 29 January 2020

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewables, is sparking debate on the use of cutting-edge robotics and autonomous systems in offshore wind by launching its first Robotics in Offshore Renewables LIVE event.

As part of the inaugural event, which will take place at 10am on Thursday 6th February (registrations are now open), four leading experts in the fields of robotics and offshore renewables will discuss topics on how UK businesses can lead the global market for offshore wind and tidal operations and maintenance, products and services.

The 90-minute livestream will highlight the current opportunities and trends in today’s offshore environment, inspiration for extreme autonomous robotics – including mission planning systems from NASA – and how the sector could look in the next 10, 20 or 30 years.

The panel will include:

  • Sara Bernardini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Royal Holloway – The University of London;
  • Dr Iain Wallace, Chief Technical Officer, Rovco;
  • Anthony Gordon, Programme Manager, GE Renewable Energy;
  • Alex Louden, Innovation Manager at ORE Catapult.

Speaking about the event, chair Alex Louden said: “The vision we’re working towards is a future where wind farm operations are much safer and more efficient, with minimal human presence offshore. We’re driving a model where the workforce will instead make the most of highly skilled tech roles onshore. This will enable us to achieve the Government’s target of 40GW by 2030 and open up endless opportunities for British tech businesses to lead this exciting global market.”

“It’s a timely discussion as there is currently such a huge domestic economic opportunity for UK businesses in the offshore renewable energy sector. We know that utilising cutting edge robotics – including crawling, climbing and flying tech – will one day mean we’re able to rely on these autonomous robots to help us accelerate the world’s transition to cleaner energy. This is of course great news for the planet, but also for businesses as this will boost the creation of thousands of highly-skilled jobs.”

One of the panellists, Dr Iain Wallace of Rovco, will be sharing his first-hand experience of working with ORE Catapult to bring subsea products to life.

“We’ve worked with the Catapult through two projects over more than two years now, primarily using their dry dock facilities at Blyth, and access to their offshore met mast. This has enabled crucial support for the development, demonstration and validation of our cutting edge computer vision and intelligent data processing AI systems. We want to make reliable robotic systems doing real tasks, in the real world – and collect the data to prove it too.

“The future of offshore renewables will clearly be driven not just by autonomous robotics, but more generally by automated and intelligent systems analysing the data. This AI-driven future must be safe, reliable and high performance. This will only be possible with the right testing, evaluation and validation.”

Robotics in Offshore Renewables LIVE is open to all and the panel will also answer questions from the public during the livestream.

Focus on the panel

Sara Bernardini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Royal Holloway – The University of London

Sara leads development of the core artificial intelligence software and human-machine interface for the highly ambitious MIMRee project, partnered by ORE Catapult. She brings experience of NASA mission planning and development of human-machine interfaces for a variety of audiences including a break-through intelligent companion for autistic children.

Dr Iain Wallace, Chief Scientific Officer, Rovco

Rovco is a UK business that was supported by ORE Catapult in developing and trialling a pioneering robotic 3D vision and AI system for sub-sea inspections. Iain has led Rovco’s R&D efforts since 2017, moving into subsea from Mars exploration rover projects for the European Space Agency. At Rovco, he leads work developing computer vision, machine learning and autonomy solutions for producing higher quality subsea data more efficiently.

Anthony Gordon, Programme Manager, GE Renewable Energy – Offshore Wind

Anthony is responsible for managing GE Offshore Wind’s “Stay Ashore!” programme of projects that focus on deploying new digital and robotics technologies to reduce offshore risks, work and thus LCOE. The projects do leverage expertise from the broader GE Renewable Energy businesses (Onshore, Offhore, Digital/Services, etc.), plus by collaborating with ORE Catapult and SMEs. In his previous roles, he managed monitoring and diagnostics projects and worked as a Technical Projects Manager in the company’s Major Projects Team.

Alex Louden, Innovation Manager, Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult

Alex Louden joined ORE Catapult in September 2017 having completed his MSc in Renewable Energy and Environmental Modelling. Alex’s role as Innovation manager sees him building collaborative projects to contribute to de-risking technology and reducing costs in the offshore renewable energy industry.

About the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

ORE Catapult was established in 2013 by the UK Government and is one of a network of Catapults set up by Innovate UK in high growth industries. It is the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy and helps to reduce the cost of offshore renewable energy, supporting the growth of the industry and creating UK benefit.

About GE Renewable Energy
GE Renewable Energy is a $15 billion business which combines one of the broadest portfolios in the renewable energy industry to provide end-to-end solutions for our customers demanding reliable and affordable green power. Combining onshore and offshore wind, blades, hydro, storage, utility-scale solar, and grid solutions as well as hybrid renewables and digital services offerings, GE Renewable Energy has installed more than 400+ gigawatts of clean renewable energy and equipped more than 90 percent of utilities worldwide with its grid solutions. With nearly 40,000 employees present in more than 80 countries, GE Renewable Energy creates value for customers seeking to power the world with affordable, reliable and sustainable green electrons.
Follow us at, on, or on

About Rovco

Rovco is a global subsea services provider focused on delivering state-of-the-art solutions. We employ leading R&D scientists to work alongside our offshore teams to develop innovative technology for our clients’ benefit. Our company steps you towards fully autonomous offshore services, improving safety while delivering greater ocean insight. Whether you need an ROV or bathymetric survey we have the capability to ensure that your project needs are met, while delivering outstanding results.

To find out more about us, visit

For more information contact:

ORE Catapult:  Amy Needham, Project Communications Manager, 07552321182



Contact Our Team