Case studies

Robotics system set to revolutionise cleaning of ships


An automated robotic cleaning system that removes marine growth from the hull of a ship is being pioneered at Newcastle University.

Set to revolutionnise the cleaning and management of ships the robot offers a solution to high fuel costs and marine related pollution while removing harmful, non-indigenous species that could be transferred to local waters.

Operating like an automatic carpet cleaner, the robot has been developed out of an EU-funded project called HISMAR (Hull Indentification System for Marine Autonomous Robotics) and is able to navigate its own way across the ship’s hull.

Newcastle University’s Jonathan Heslop a researcher on the project, said: “All other developed cleaning or inspection systems currently available are remotely controlled during their operation, requiring highly skilled and experienced operators to effectively clean the hull, while the ship is out of operation and usually out of water.

The advantage of the HISMAR robot is that it is an autonomous system so it can continue cleaning with the ship remaining in service – feeding back hull information as it does so – resulting in very little build of growth, reduced fuel costs and much less pollution.”