Scottish-based subsea robotics system set to clean up in the offshore wind industry

Published 28 September 2022

Plans to create a new robotic system that could provide a sustainable, cost-effective solution to subsea maintenance and transform the offshore wind industry are taking off.

Aberdeen-based offshore robotics company, HonuWorx, with support from the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and Innovate UK, is on track to deliver a revolutionary robotic concept that will transform subsea maintenance.

Loggerhead is a multifaceted system providing a sustainable solution for subsea work that requires physical intervention, such as maintenance of offshore energy infrastructure. The system features a control centre connecting geographically distributed stakeholders to the operation, and a submersible mothership that serves as a mobile power and communication hub for Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) – worker robots that will carry out the subsea work.

Loggerhead would deploy and operate ROVs at underwater locations, and data on its movements could be accessed from anywhere in the world.

The project will engage with prospective customers to understand their requirements and refine the design of Loggerhead to enable crewless operations.

Lee Wilson, CEO at HonuWorx, said:

“HonuWorx was founded to scale up the use of subsea robotics across the entire ocean economy. With decades of experience in subsea operations and maintenance, our team recognised that today’s models are heavily reliant on large support vessels that are no longer sustainable from a cost or environmental perspective. We need entirely new approaches to deploy underwater robots economically to enable growing sectors like offshore renewables attain cost parity.

“Multiple stakeholders can access the data during a Loggerhead operation at any given time – including pilots, the end client, the manufacturer – and this goes way beyond any concept currently available, as it doesn’t require a physical control room or onshore building to house a crew.

“Lowering the cost of subsea maintenance will have a large impact on the floating wind market, where we expect to see an exponential increase in subsea infrastructure, all requiring regular inspection.”

While ROVs are currently used for offshore wind farm inspections, they rely on large, crewed, diesel-powered vessels for transportation. Due to the use of these vessels, a 21-day inspection can cost up to £1.5m and emit more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Dr. Cristina Garcia Duffy, Technical Director at Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, said:

“To reach our net zero targets at sector level, we must seek to adopt new technologies and systems solutions that address all aspects of our operations.

“HonuWorx’s Loggerhead project provides a fantastic solution that has the potential to revolutionise the way ROVs are deployed whilst achieving a significant reduction in CO2 emissions for operations and maintenance activities. We are very excited to help bring this concept to life at ORE Catapult.”

The Loggerhead project will build on the success of HonuWorx’s Ridley Project, that looked at subsea robotics as a sustainable and cost-effective solution for offshore wind farms. HonuWorx plans to produce a scaled Loggerhead proof of concept by the end of 2022.

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