Anthony Gordon, Dr Iain Wallace, Professor Sara Bernardini and Alex Louden prepare to debate the use of robotics in offshore renewables.

ORE Catapult leads successful industry debate on use of robotics in offshore wind

Published 13 February 2020

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has released the recording of its inaugural Robotics in Offshore Renewables LIVE event, which saw industry panellists debating a future vision where robotics and autonomous systems will conduct the inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore wind farms.

The 90-minute livestream saw a panel of industry and academic experts discuss hot topics such as how novel robotic systems could improve the safety and efficiency of harnessing clean offshore energy.

The expert panel included Sara Bernardini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Royal Holloway – the University of London; Dr Iain Wallace, Chief Technical Officer, Rovco; and Anthony Gordon, Programme Manager at GE Renewable Energy.

The event was watched by experts and enthusiasts from across the globe. Viewers, eager to hear more, put questions to the panel on subsea and wind operations, logistics, legislation and the practicalities of how humans and robots will work together in extreme environments.

Alex Louden, chair of the event and Innovation Manager at ORE Catapult, said: “It was fantastic to have such a wealth of experience on the panel. The themes of integration and connectivity were really important and came up again and again. At present, we see robots undertaking tasks in relative isolation, however we shall see significantly more value from these systems when they are able to perform multiple tasks or work together. All three panellists commented on this, and I believe it will be a focus for the development of robotic technologies in the coming years.”

Dr Iain Wallace, Chief Technical Officer, Rovco, added: “It was great to see good viewer participation in the event. In particular, the questions the panel received showed that the audience, and by implication the industry, are interested, educated and engaged in the topic of AI and autonomy. Hopefully the panel has inspired further conversation. ”

Sara Bernardini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Royal Holloway – The University of London commented: “As an academic, I am always very interested in hearing the point of view of both large corporations such as GE and small companies, such as Rovco. I was delighted to see that we share a common mission: to develop robust autonomous systems that can minimise risks and increase safety as well as efficiency in offshore operations. We all agree that gaining the trust of renewable energy stakeholders is key for broad adoption of technology, and such trust can only be achieved by using transparent and explainable AI.”

Anthony Gordon, Programme Manager at GE Renewable Energy also commented: “I’m thrilled to have played a key part in the very first Robotics in Offshore Renewables LIVE event. There’s great value in debating and discussing emerging technologies and on a personal level it was a good opportunity to communicate some of the work GE Renewable Energy is doing in the UK market.”

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