Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

CART — Result In Brief

Project ID: 285878
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Italy

Safer ship rescues

An EU project's system allows low-risk ship rescues. Depending on circumstances, either a manually driven submersible or an automatic boat will lasso a specially attached tow-pod launched from a troubled ship.
Safer ship rescues
Following too many shipping disasters, oil spills in particular, international shipping regulations now require that all large cargo vessels be equipped with emergency towing systems. Yet, most existing systems involve the tugboat closely approaching the distressed ship, meaning significant danger, especially when ships are grounded on rocks.

The EU-funded 'Cooperative autonomous robotic towing system' (CART) project offered a solution. A distressed ship first launches a floating buoy, which remains attached to the ship. A robotic unmanned boat (B-ART), attached to a rescue ship, approaches the buoy, semi-automatically encircles the buoy with a floating line, and knots the line.

An additional module, for cooperative robotic operations, incorporates a remotely controlled semi-submersible vehicle that performs the recovery (ART). Either way, a connection to the distressed ship is safely established at a distance, eliminating much of the risk to human life or other systems.

The project aimed to validate the concept, to research the guidance and control of robotic boats, and to transfer the technology to the small business participants. Six partners worked together on the project from November 2011 to July 2013.

Testing on a prototype remotely piloted semi-submersible vehicle (ART) focused on validating the rope-hooking system and the knotting manoeuvre. Trials under various rescue scenarios, including towing from a harbour and in open sea, satisfactorily demonstrated the system. Using information gained from testing about controlling the vehicle, the team developed and tested two revised prototypes during the final year. Further manoeuvring experiments were successful under both scenarios.

Field testing of the autonomous system, under the same harbour and open-sea rescue scenarios, amounted to a successful demonstration of the system. B-ART encircled the buoy deployed by the simulated distressed ship, and knotted the tow line. The system is now qualified and ready for commercial refinement.

The CART project has produced a system for safely rescuing distressed ships, which will mean reduction of danger and environmental impact. Additionally, the consortium represents significant commercial opportunities, hence contributing to EU 2020 goals in terms of growth and job opportunities.

Related information

Keywords

Ship rescue, submersible, cargo vessel, emergency towing system, distressed ship, danger, robotic unmanned boat
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