Edinburgh-based offshore robotics researcher ORCA Hub has secured £2.5 million from UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) to support its goal of making offshore energy safer and fully digitised. The Hub reports that £1.9 million of the funding will be used to explore applications of its research in other industry verticals, while £600,000 will be used towards the delivery of six demonstration projects for industrial partners.
Founded in 2017 by Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh, one of the strategic projects within the National Robotarium, the ORCA (Offshore Robotics for the Certification of Assets) Hub which includes Imperial College London, Liverpool, and Oxford Universities, is helping to foster energy transition and advance the adoption of renewable energy.
“Robots have the potential to carry out inspection and maintenance in hazardous environments, reducing the risks of putting divers into the water in harsh conditions or workers operating at height on wind turbines. Finding ways to combine the flexibility of autonomous robots with remote human operators has been one of the key strands in my career over the past 20 years,” explains newly appointed director Yvan Petillot. “The ORCA Hub has built a community of roboticists and expertise during its initial phase. This funding extension aims to accelerate the translation of the research into our existing industry network, working with companies including Wood, EDF, and Ross Robotics, while expanding into new sectors by adapting the current research and tackling the novel challenges these sectors bring.”