Subsea robots are critical to the continued rapid growth of the offshore wind sector, however the cost and environmental footprint of traditional deployment methods is no longer sustainable due to the industry’s reliance on large diesel powered vessels.
While ROVs exist for offshore wind farm inspections, they rarely achieve more than 50% of their annual utilisation as they rely upon large, crewed, diesel-powered vessels for transportation.
Aberdeen-based HonuWorx is developing a series of robotic deployment systems that are set to revolutionise operations and maintenance in offshore wind. The first of these is Ridley, a submersible deployment and operations platform for large subsea robots that delivers a cost effective and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional large vessel-based subsea robotic systems – a typical a 21-day mission may cost up to £1.5 million and emit more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide using traditional methods.
Ridley is towed to the worksite by small vessels of opportunity. Once on site, the platform lowers to deploy subsea robots without the need for complex lifting equipment and without the risk commonly associated with crane-based deployments through the splash-zone. The submersible platform can also deploy robots in heavier sea-states than both crewed and uncrewed vessels, reducing non-productive time and removing the risk of damage. The Ridley system uses a cloud-based mission control system to allow technicians onshore to monitor operational data and collaborate in real time.
The Ridley system is comprised of technologies that have been validated in other sectors but never previously combined industrially. The combination of a novel submersible deployment and operations platform with cloud-based distributed mission control allows the Ridley system to provide a solution that is less costly, less polluting and rapidly configurable to meet the needs of the offshore renewable energy sector.
HonuWorx has joined forces with ORE Catapult as part of an Innovate UK-funded project that aims to engineer, build and demonstrate the innovative subsea robot deployment and operations platform. Working with the Catapult as part of this project allows HonuWorx to accelerate the Ridley system’s route-to-market by 12 months.
ORE Catapult has established world class test, validation and research capabilities to accelerate the deployment of new and innovative offshore renewable energy technology. As wind farms continue to be deployed further offshore and into deeper waters with increasingly challenging conditions, ORE Catapult’s facilities enable innovators like HonuWorx to test, calibrate and validate remote sensor technologies, moving the Ridley system from TRL 4 to TRL 7, and showcasing benefits of the latest robotics technology to future investors and end-users.
A successful outcome to the project will inform HonuWorx’ roadmap towards their highly disruptive Loggerhead concept, which will utilise an autonomous mothership as a mobile power and communications hub for ROVs and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).