Catapults
INNOVATION

Robotics and Autonomous Systems

Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) will have an enormous part to play in helping the offshore wind, wave and tidal sectors meet cost reduction, production and productivity targets. With our world-leading testing and validation facilities and deep industry expertise, ORE Catapult is leading the way in robotics research for the sector.


This emerging technology area has the potential to create gains in all areas of offshore renewables – from autonomous underwater vehicles that take personnel out of hazardous subsea environments, to sophisticated drones that can perform blade inspections in minutes.

Our test and validation facilities provide representative environments to help prove, demonstrate and accelerate the commercialisation of new robotics technologies, increasing investor confidence and bringing their benefits to the market more quickly. Our assets and knowledge have already helped UK innovators like Rovco, Modus Seabed Intervention and Perceptual Robotics take their technologies closer to full commercialisation.


Marine Robotics & Autonomous Systems Testing

Our unique still water dock testing facility features a replica seabed and offers the potential for deployment of scaled and representative offshore wind farm infrastructure, such as cables and foundations, allowing developers of marine RAS to carry out trials in a controlled, representative environment. And our experienced marine engineers and technicians have the capabilities to replicate the conditions found on an offshore wind farm – boosting bankability and investor confidence in innovative solutions that perform well. For example, a seabed survey can be carried out using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) or Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV).

Our NOAH offshore met mast is located approximately 3 nautical miles off the coast of Blyth and provides the opportunity to demonstrate marine RAS technologies in real-world operating environments. For example, carrying out a subsea inspection of the met mast foundation and survey of the surrounding seabed using an AUV.

Our subsea testing facilities have been used by Modus Seabed Intervention to test its cutting-edge AUV platform and subsea AUV charging and communications system, which reduces the cost of subsea surveys and inspections for offshore wind farm owner/operators.

Contact Systems Testing

Our facilities provide vast opportunities for the testing, validation and de-risking of systems that come into contact with offshore wind farm infrastructure to perform inspections and repairs. Our existing facilities – used for structural and mechanical testing of major turbine components, including blades and drivetrains – can be adapted and used for robotics and autonomous technologies.

Our 50m Blade Test Facility provided a controlled environment for the UK SME BladeBug to test its innovative robotic crawler system for surface and subsurface inspection of blades. And our dedicated 27m turbine Training Tower in Blyth provided a perfect platform for Great Yarmouth-based ATAM Group to test the operation of its MagTrack robotic crawler.

Furthermore, our 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine can be used to demonstrate systems in a real-world environment, demonstrating their suitability and readiness for use in the industry.

Testing at ORE Catapult is an important step in our engineering process and the data collected will play a critical role in future design considerations. We plan to continue to invest in both onshore and offshore testing.

Theo Botha

atlantis resources ltd

The Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine provides the perfect platform to test, validate and demonstrate aerial robotics technologies for remote turbine inspections, for example UAVs. Our experienced engineers can provide comprehensive assessment of technologies to verify if they meet industry requirements.

The Catapult has been collaborating with the offshore wind industry and UAV service providers to develop an industry guideline for validating the quality of images gathered by UAVs for blade inspections. Based on comprehensive testing performed at the Levenmouth Turbine, the Catapult can provide assessment of UAV technologies to ensure they meet minimum industry requirements, helping to validate their performance and suitability for the industry.

RAS Instrumentation Testing

The Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine provides the perfect platform to test, validate and demonstrate aerial robotics technologies for remote turbine inspections, for example UAVs. Our experienced engineers can provide comprehensive assessment of technologies to verify if they meet industry requirements.

The Catapult has been collaborating with the offshore wind industry and UAV service providers to develop an industry guideline for validating the quality of images gathered by UAVs for blade inspections. Based on comprehensive testing performed at the Levenmouth Turbine, the Catapult can provide assessment of UAV technologies to ensure they meet minimum industry requirements, helping to validate their performance and suitability for the industry.

In addition to RAS platform testing, our assets can be used for the development and testing of RAS instrumentation. For example, novel sensors for inspections of turbines and foundations. The Catapult own and operate our own UAVs, which offer aerial platforms for integration with, and testing of, sensing equipment.

Our subsea testing facilities have been used by Rovco to test its cutting-edge subsea 3D visualisation systems, which provide offshore wind owner/operators with a clearer – and more immediate – picture of their assets.

Beyond the validation of new technologies, the Catapult can objectively assess market potential. We offer independent assessment of the technical and commercial benefits to be gained from using robotics and autonomous technologies developed in the supply chain and academic spheres – for example, our comprehensive O&M cost model can be applied to assess the cost-saving potential of implementing robotic solutions.

The Catapult has been working with Perceptual Robotics to assess the market potential of its fully autonomous blade inspection solution, which has significant cost saving potential for the sector.

Contact Our Team

Tony Fong

Engineering Manager

Email Tony Fong

0333 004 1349

see bio

Tony Fong is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with over 10 years’ experience in R&D within aerospace and offshore renewables sectors. He is experienced in the area of design and analysis of structural and mechanical systems with a background of integration design from the civil aviation industry.

Tony now leads a rapidly growing team of expert engineers within the Operational Performance team to deliver and support the development of technologies for the offshore renewables sector and ORE Catapult.

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