ORCA Stream B - Towards Resident Robots

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science

Abstract

The international offshore energy industry is undergoing as revolution, adopting aggressive net-zero objectives and shifting rapidly towards large scale offshore wind energy production. This revolution cannot be done using 'business as usual' approaches in a competitive market with low margins. Further, the offshore workforce is ageing as new generations of suitable graduates prefer not to work in hazardous places offshore. Operators therefore seek more cost effective, safe methods and business models for inspection, repair and maintenance of their topside and marine offshore infrastructure. Robotics and artificial intelligence are seen as key enablers in this regard as fewer staff offshore reduces cost, increases safety and workplace appeal. The long-term industry vision is thus for a digitised offshore energy field, operated, inspected and maintained from the shore using robots, digital architectures and cloud based processes to realise this vision. In the last 3 years, we has made significant advances to bring robots closer to widespread adoption in the offshore domain, developing close ties with industrial actors across the sector. The recent pandemic has highlighted a widespread need for remote operations in many other industrial sectors.
The ORCA Hub extension is a one year project from 5 UK leading universities with over 20 industry partners (>£2.6M investment) which aims at translating the research done into the first phase of the Hub into industry led use cases. Led by the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics (HWU/UoE), in collaboration with Imperial College, Oxford and Liverpool Universities, this multi-disciplinary consortium brings its unique expertise in: Subsea (HWU), Ground (UoE, Oxf) and Aerial robotics (ICL); as well as human-machine interaction (HWU, UoE), innovative sensors for Non Destructive Evaluation and low-cost sensor networks (ICL, UoE); and asset management and certification (HWU, UoE, LIV).
The Hub will provide remote solutions using robotics and AI that are applicable across a wide range of industrial sectors and that can operate and interact safely in autonomous or semi-autonomous modes in complex and cluttered environments. We will develop robotics solutions enabling accurate mapping , navigation around and interaction with assets in the marine, aerial and ground environments that support the deployment of sensors for asset monitoring. This will be demonstrated using 4 industry led use cases developed in close collaboration with our industry partners and feeding directly into their technology roadmaps: Offshore Renewable Energy Subsea Inspection in collaboration with EDF, Wood, Fugro, OREC, Seebyte Ltd and Rovco; Aerial Inspection of Large Infrastructures in Challenging Conditions in collaboration with Barrnon, BP, Flyability, SLAMCore, Voliro and Helvetis; Robust Inspection and Manipulation in Hazardous Environments in collaboration with ARUP, Babcock, Chevron, EMR, Lafarge, Createc, Ross Robotics; Symbiotic Systems for Resilient Autonomous Missions in collaboration with TLB, Total Wood and the Lloyds Register. This will see the Hub breach into new sectors and demonstrate the potential of our technology on a wider scale.
 
Description The project aimed to provide remote solutions using robotics and AI, applicable across a wide range of industrial sectors, that could operate and interact safely in autonomous and semi-autonomous modes within complex environments. We have developed solutions that have enabled accurate mapping, navigation around and interacting with assets within the marine, aerial and ground environments.


We have continued to grow and develop our industry and academic network, expanding our support for the renewables sector while extending into other industrial sectors.
Exploitation Route We have continued to engage with offshore companies in the oil and gas sector with increased support for the energy transition and additional interest from the renewables sector . Having engaged with Technology Leadership Board (TLB) to develop an initiative to support the development of robotics within the energy sector as it moves into renewables and a net zero future, we now have a large £4M project funded (OLTER) which will drive the development and adoption of robotics by industry. We have also explored expansion of the technology developments of the Hub into the construction, nuclear, agriculture/forestry/viticulture and healthcare industries. This has led to several further proposal submissions and collaborations equating to approximately £7Mn.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Energy,Environment

URL https://orcahub.org/
 
Description The statistical outputs from the Stream B grant have been reported alongside outputs the original ORCA Hub, helping to contribute over a hundred industry engagements, an additional 50 publications and conference papers alongside continuing support for three start-ups. The subsea work has been presented to the general public through a UK-RAS Live Lab, enabling attendees to remotely operate an underwater vehicle. Specifically the Stream B grant has enabled the expansion of the technology into other sectors and led to further collaborations for future work. The ORCA Hub has taken a lead role in driving new initiatives, supporting industrial programmes and roadmaps, and initiating new work streams, aligning with the offshore energy industry as it responds to the energy transition and the increased pace of activity in the renewables sector. We are one of the funding members of OLTER, a new industry and government supported initiative to accelerate the take up of robotics solutions in the offshore energy sector and especially the offshore renewable sector as we transition to net-zero. Finally, we have entered in a number of strategic partnerships with industrial partners to exploit the outcomes of the Hub. These are currently commercially confidential.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Energy,Healthcare
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Supergen ORE Hub & ORCA Hub Funding Award
Amount £12,500 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2021 
End 04/2022
 
Title Two large wind blades and water tank at Flight Arena, Empa 
Description Two large wind blade sections arrived from ORE Catapult UK (6m x1.7m; 6mx0.4m). • We are in process of installation of these two wind blades (indoors and outdoors). • Installation of water tank (2m by 1.5m by 0.7m). 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2022 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Testbed for development of inspection technology in safe environment(prior to use in real world applications) Realistic testing environment Opportunity for robotic inspection to reduce risk to human workers. 
 
Description Collaboration with Arup 
Organisation Arup Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Staff time for meetings to discuss possible ORCA Hub projects and sharing of developments relevant to Arup.
Collaborator Contribution Arup will contribute to this project through staff time, primarily Simon Evans and Max Resnick with others brought in as necessary, in areas that may include: ? Definition of user requirements and criteria for success ? Provide insight into relevant use cases where this research is transferable to the markets that Arup works in ? Support defining what would constitute success, both technically and economically ? Potential involvement in an Industry Governance Board
Impact Arup have provided professional industry input and attendance at ORCA Hub meetings.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Barrnon 
Organisation Barrnon
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial Collaboration
Collaborator Contribution - Definition of user requirements and criteria for success. - Provide detailed insight into decommissioning use cases where this research and technology are transferable. - Operational expertise related to the fluidic logic telepresence and decommissioning robotics process and current challenges. - Information and data which would aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solutions. - Support defining what would constitute success both technically and economically. - Provide the Barrnon Integrated Decommissioning System (BIDS) for trial demonstrations or proof-of-concept. - Provide general input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into the decommissioning sector. - Provide test facilities.
Impact No outcomes yet.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Createc 
Organisation Createc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution Engineering time.
Impact Createc and University of Oxford are collaborating on several projects, which have brought in additional funding and further developed the ORCA research.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Doosan Babcock 
Organisation Doosan Babcock
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution • Industrial insight to asset management standards and inspection strategies. • Provide information to specific asset integrity challenges and safety case requirements. • Operational insight into commercial NDE inspection technology. • Commercial and technical KPIs that would constitute success both technically and economically • Potential access to test facilities for trial demonstrations of proof-of-concept • General input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into Doosan Babcock business sectors
Impact No output yet.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with EDF 
Organisation EDF Energy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution - Operational expertise related to the current wind turbine inspection process and challenges. - Definition of user requirements and criteria for success, both technically and economically. - Information and data which would aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solutions. - Help on the setup of trial demonstrations of proof-of-concept. - Work on the integration of a cleaning brush onto a subsea drone for marine growth removal.
Impact Output planned for Q3/4 2022 and Q2 2023, as a continuation of activity beyond ORCA. Previous output from collaboration has been realised from ORCA Stream A activities.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with European Metal Recycling 
Organisation European Metal Recycling Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution EMR will contribute to this project through: • Senior EMR staff time from Rob Chaddock, Wayne Kelsall and Roger Morton, valued at £12,000 ? Operational expertise related to the cutting of metal scrap with oxy-propane ? Information and data which would aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solution ? We will purchase and supply equipment for the University to use for the research with value up to £20,000 as follows: - the cutting torch head, the gas supply and light duty automated control valves for the gas supply - the materials for the rail - the motor to propel the torch along the rail - a range of sensors for the control system ? Provide general input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into our sector ? Direct cash support for the staff involved in the project in the University (£10K).
Impact No output yet.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Fugro 
Organisation Fugro
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution ? Definition of user requirements and criteria for success ? Provide detailed insight into the marine use cases this research is targeting ? Provide operational expertise related to the subsea inspection, repair and maintenance of subsea structure process and current challenges ? Information and data which would aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solutions ? Support defining what would constitute success both technically and economically ? Provide access to and Remote Operation Centre facilities for trial demonstrations of proof-of-concept ? Provide Fugro Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to support the application of the research during its development and/or trial demonstration ? Provide general input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into marine operations
Impact Fugro are an industry champion for Stream B challenge 1, providing industrial input into the commercial value of the developments and route to market. Output for this collaboration will take place Q3/4 2022 and Q2 2023 continuing the the ORCA work beyond EPSRC funding.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Lloyd's Register 
Organisation Lloyd's Register
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution - Definition of client user requirements and criteria for success from the perspective of an international class society and assurance provider. - Insight into offshore use cases in oil and gas and offshore wind sectors to assist with technology transfer. - Operational expertise related to the application of technology qualification and type approval service in the offshore oil and gas and renewable sectors. - Multi-sector expertise in providing digital solutions and autonomous assurance methodologies. - Links to potential commercial exploitation partners where they are not already connected to the ORCA Hub. - Support to piloting remote sensing technology solutions with digital software products, either from own asset integrity software portfolio or in conjunction with existing client software systems. - Strategic support to Governance through Chairing the ISC and supporting academic and industrial liaison panels with specialists as appropriate.
Impact Lloyd's Register are an industry champion for Stream B challenge 4, providing industrial input into the commercial value of the developments and route to market.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with ORE Catapult 
Organisation ORE Catapult
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution ? Provide Test and Validation facilities for trial demonstrations of proof-of-concept. Specifically our blade testing and expertise in Blyth as well as our 7MW demonstration turbine in Fife, Scotland. ? Operational expertise related to the current wind turbine inspection processes and current challenges, aiming to Identify current operational processes and their issues ? Information and data which would aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solutions ? Support defining what would constitute success both technically and economically ? Provide general input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into the offshore wind sector ? Definition and validation of user requirements ? Identification of expected end user benefits and financial constraints
Impact ORE Catapult are one of the partners in the OLTER project, alongside NZTC, which is a collaborative project that will build on the developments and expertise of ORCA and continue beyond the ORCA funding.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Ross Robotics 
Organisation Ross Robotics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboation.
Collaborator Contribution - Operational expertise related to the design and deployment process within robotics and current challenges. - Information and data which would aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solutions. - Supporting defining what would constitute success both technically and economically. - Provide robotic platforms for trial demonstrations of proof-of-concept. - Provide general input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into the robotics sectors.
Impact No outputs yet.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Rovco 
Organisation Rovco Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution ? Provide detailed insight into the subsea use cases ? Operational expertise related to subsea inspection processes and current challenges ? Information and data which would aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solutions ? Support defining what would constitute success both technically and economically ? Provide general input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into the offshore wind sectors
Impact No output yet.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Seebyte 
Organisation SeeByte Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution - Definition of user requirements and criteria for success. - Subject Matter Experts in both the Neptune and CoPilot products who will assist in integration of the software. - Operational expertise related to relevant commercial use cases and current challenges. - Provision of 1 CoPilot License and 2 Neptune Licenses for the duration of the program. - Provide general input and direction into the operational requirements of the proposed solutions into the offshore and renewable sectors.
Impact Seebyte have provided ongoing support that has resulted in the award of additional funding building on the work completed in ORCA.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with Wood 
Organisation Wood Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution • Provide detailed insight into potential use cases for all research/technology within the ORCA portfolio, in a range of domains and identify opportunities to transfer applications to diverse sectors. • Definition of user requirements, criteria for success, and areas for development, drawing on our 1000+ Key Speciality Leaders and ~4,500 Subject Matter Experts across our 23 consulting domains, • Operational expertise related to inspection, maintenance, and risk management processes and current challenges, to aid in exploring the feasibility of the proposed solutions, • Support defining what would constitute success both technically and economically, • Where appropriate, and subject to any COVID restrictions etc., facilities may be utilised for specific purposes, as they have been in the past.
Impact Wood have continued to support ORCA by being a member of our ILOP governance board and provided industry input into the direction and relevance of our research.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with bp 
Organisation BP (British Petroleum)
Department BP Exploration Operating Company Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Industrial Collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution Use of test facility.
Impact The EMAT NDT team carried out a trial at the bp site in 2022.
Start Year 2021
 
Description ILOP (Industry Challenge Champions), Conference Call, 10 December 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Catch-up meeting with our industry working group to provide an update on developments and forward plans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ILOP (Industry Challenge Champions), Conference Call, 15 February 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Catch-up meeting with our industry working group to discuss ORCA Hub activities past, present and future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description ILOP (Industry Challenge Champions), Conference Call, 20 January 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Catch-up meeting with our industry working group to provide an update on developments and forward plans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description ILOP Governance Meeting, 06 October 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Governance meeting with our industry working group to discuss ORCA past, present and future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ILOP Governance Meeting, 23 March 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Governance meeting with our industry working group to close-out ORCA industry related activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description ISC Governance Meeting, 07 October 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Governance meeting with our independent steering group to discuss ORCA past, present and future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ISC Governance Meeting, 24 March 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Governance meeting with our independent steering group to close-out the ORCA project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description ORCA Hub Stream B challenge 1 webinar, 05 July 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Webinar to present Stream B challenge 1 to industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ORCA Hub Stream B challenge 2 webinar, 06 July 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Webinar to present Stream B challenge 2 to industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ORCA Hub Stream B challenge 3 webinar, 07 July 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Webinar to present Stream B challenge 3 to industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ORCA Hub Stream B challenge 4 webinar, 09 July 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Webinar to present Stream B challenge 4 to industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ORCA Hub Stream B challenge 5 webinar, 08 July 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Webinar to present Stream B challenge 5 to industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description ORCA Stream B Launch Webinar, 17 June 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We hosted a webinar to present our achievements in ORCA to date and what our development plans were for the additional Stream B funding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021