Scientists from Scotland-based Heriot-Watt University and experts from Smart Systems Group have collaborated to deliver a new human-robotics hybrid solution for the maintenance and operation of offshore windfarms.
The collaboration has received a £4m funding to develop remote inspection and repair technologies by using robotics and autonomous systems.
Human-robotics technology will be used to recognise problems early and inspect the condition of subsea power cables to help extend their lifespan.
Smart Systems Group at Heriot-Watt University's director Dr David Flynn said: “The UK Government has set ambitious decarbonisation targets, increasing the present 5GW generated by offshore wind farms to 40GW by 2050.
“By integrating technologies, such as autonomous underwater vehicles and advanced sonar technology, we will gain a new insight into the condition of these subsea assets.”
To date, costs of attaining the targets have focused on the capital outlay for wind turbines. However, cost estimations have considerably ignored the operation and maintenance of windfarm assets, including subsea cabling.
Dr Flynn added: “We aim to provide the UK with a competitive advantage within the highly lucrative offshore energy market.
“Our hybrid, human-robotics, technology will seek to protect those most vulnerable to increases in the cost of energy by reducing the costs faced by both tax and bill payers.”
The Heriot-Watt team of the Holistic Operation and Maintenance for Energy from Offshore Wind Farms (HOME-Offshore) consortium comprises Dr David Flynn, Professor David Lane, and Dr Keith Brown.
Of the £4m research grant, £3m will be funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and £1m will come from industry contribution.
Image: Human-robotics used for maintenance and operation of offshore wind farms. Photo: courtesy of Heriot-Watt University.