Greensea Advancing Autonomous Hull Cleaning for the US Navy
Marine software company Greensea Systems Inc. said it has recently been awarded a contract for a two-year Phase II Option Period by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research to continue the technology development for an autonomous hull cleaning vehicle. This is a continuation of the work that Greensea has been conducting through a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program since 2018.
“The objective of this STTR is to develop a highly autonomous robotic system for proactively cleaning ship hulls, that can be operated easily and cost effectively with minimal supervision. The Navy is investigating this technology as a means to keep ships clear of biofouling in an environmentally sustainable way, ensuring fleet readiness and ultimately reducing hull related maintenance costs,” said Karl Lander, Director of Regulatory Compliance and Outreach at Greensea sister company Armach Robotics.
“The focus of the earlier Phase I and II efforts were to design, characterize, develop and test a navigation system that can provide the required accurate on-hull navigation. The focus of the newly awarded option period is to continue to refine the navigation and autonomy technology, demonstrate the capabilities through proactive cleaning of a vessel of significance to the U.S. Navy, and deliver a complete data package for the cleaning system,” Lander said.
A final requirement of any STTR program is to demonstrate the commercial viability of the technology, in addition to demonstrating its value to the U.S. Navy. To achieve this, Greensea has developed a novel, hull-relative positioning system for use in a hull crawling robot designed and built by Armach Robotics. Using a combination of inertial and feature based sonar navigation, the Armach hull cleaning robot will be capable of determining and continually updating its position on the ship’s hull with extreme accuracy, allowing Greensea’s autonomy capabilities to free the operator from driving the robot.
To achieve the goals of Phase II, Greensea has partnered with the University of Maryland Centre for Environmental Science’s Maritime Environmental Resource Center (MERC) and Armach Robotics. MERC brings significant expertise in biofouling control methods and will provide critical support in independent, scientific assessments of the robots’ navigation, autonomy and cleaning technologies efficiency and efficacy. With Armach Robotics, a sister company of Greensea, providing the robots and robot operators to conduct field operations throughout the period of performance, Greensea will continue to focus on the navigation and autonomy refinement.