RoboShip is a sub-project of the SmartBot initiative dedicated to exploring the use of intelligent industrial robots in the shipping industry.
Despite many innovations over the past century, the shipbuilding and shipping industry still requires many processes to be carried out by hand. Maintenance, welding and inspection, cleaning and the upkeep of hard to reach components such as the water ballasts used to stabilize large ships have so far not been automated.
Currently, RoboShip is working on perfecting an intelligent multi-sensor robot system to inspect and repair the ballast water tanks of large ships. Such a system involves robots with multiple sensors and onboard diagnostic tools travelling on a built track through inaccessible parts of the ship’s hull. It requires neither detailed information about the tank being inspected nor a skilled operator. And, it also allows for the inspection and repair of the tanks while a ship is in the water.
Development partners in the RoboShip project come from both the industry and academic sectors. The academic partners focus on the algorithms and software structure needed to realize cooperation between the robots and the data in order to perform complex tasks while the industrial partners contribute their extensive knowledge of industrial production systems and environments.
This combination of academic and industrial partners has resulted in the realization of several prototypes and virtual simulations to prove the feasibility of the RoboShip concepts in a real production environment.
Lead partners for RoboShip on the industrial side include the developer and global supplier of 3D motion tracking products, Xsens, and the venerable shipyard Meyer Werft GmBh.
Lead partners on the institutional side include Assen-based INCAS; the University of Groningen, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and University of Twente Faculty of Engineering Technology, among others.
RoboShip is just one component of SmartBot, an innovative cross-border project involving twenty-four partners collaborating in Germany and the Netherlands. Together they are creating a global knowledge hot spot in the field of robotic sensing. At this time, SmartBot comprises two areas of research and development in addition to RoboShip:
Supported by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Structural Funds program and a number of regional governmental funds, SmartBot is being acclaimed as a new way for key sectors to share individual expertise and knowledge bases in an effort to build new capacities and possibilities in an era of economic instability.