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April 2, 2024

Innovative ‘Wall Climbing Robot’ for Ship Inspection Earns ClassNK Endorsement

The wall climbing robot for ship inspection and maintenance (Credit: Screenshot/Video by MOL)

The wall climbing robot for ship inspection and maintenance (Credit: Screenshot/Video by MOL)

The wall climbing robot for steel structures - developed by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, and MOL Ship Management  to support ship inspection and maintenance - has completed a demonstration test and earned the Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) Innovation Endorsement.

The Innovation Endorsement is ClassNK's third-party certification program. It certifies and supports initiatives that contribute to the sustainable evolution of maritime and offshore businesses.

The robot developed by Japanese partners is characterized by its high traversability not only on vertical walls but also on curved surfaces and unevenness. It can move to high places that were previously difficult to access by humans or robots, and can take clear photographs and inspections of the relevant parts.

Moreover, it is capable of measuring the thickness of steel plates by remote operation by the operator, and its measurement accuracy is as high as 0.01mm.

This not only avoids the dangers of working at heights, but also eliminates the need for scaffolding, reducing labor costs and scaffolding costs. Furthermore, it can also work in confined spaces, eliminating the risk of oxygen deficiency for the crew.

A demonstration test of the robot was conducted in a vessel's hold (the space where cargo is loaded and stored) and observed by ClassNK. The robot successfully completed various operations, such as navigating corners, acquiring wall inspection images, and measuring plate thickness, which is difficult to achieve with conventional robots


The innovative robot performance and technology, as well as its innovative functions for ship inspection, have been recognized, and it has obtained the Innovation Endorsement certification from ClassNK in the ‘Product & Solution’ category, which targets products and systems that apply advanced initiatives.

Following the success of this demonstration test, MOL and MOL Ship Management aim to further develop their ship operation and management technology, as well as Sumitomo Heavy Industries’ robot development and manufacturing technology.

They also aim to enhance the performance and functionality of robots and pursue digital transformation using detailed data obtained from robots.

The February 2024 edition of Marine Technology Reporter is focused on Oceanographic topics and technologies.
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