With over 89 000 km of coastline, Europe has always been closely connected to the oceans and seas. To better understand these waters, the past 20 years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of marine robotics. Used for everything from environmental surveys to scientific research, oil and gas exploration, border surveillance, infrastructure inspection, and farming, underwater systems are one of the most valuable sectors within the robotics market. Yet, despite their importance, the mass uptake of marine robotics has been limited due to cost, complexity and technological constraints. This is where submarine drone manufacturer Nido Robotics comes in. With the support of EU funding, the company is developing Sibiu HCEV, a disruptive, electric underwater robot that will allow companies to harness cutting-edge robotics technology in an easy-to-use and safe format. “Once complete, this robot will be like the Tesla of the sea,” says Roy Petter Dyrdahl Torgersen, founder and CEO of Nido Robotics and coordinator of the EU-funded Sibiu HCEV project. “It will allow companies operating within the blue economy to become more efficient and, ultimately, be able to provide us with a better understanding of our underwater environment.”
A hybrid remotely operated vehicle
The key aim of the project was the development of a hybrid remotely operated vehicle (HROV), along with the necessary underlying technologies. Capable of autonomously carrying out specific missions, the Sibiu HCEV is designed to automatically change parameters as needed. The robot can also be piloted remotely. “This new robot will permit industries like aquaculture, shipping, oil and gas, and the scientific community – to mention only a few – to automate such tasks as inspection, maintenance, repair and data collection,” explains Torgersen. In addition to the development of the robot itself, the project conducted intense market research on the global unmanned, underwater vehicle segment. “With a better understanding of the market, we can make sound decisions on how to tailor the Sibiu HCEV to compete on the international market,” says Torgersen. For example, during this market research, the project team discovered that some of the system’s underlying technology was protected by patents. This required the company to accelerate its R and D in some areas and change its overall approach in others.
A global leader in intelligent robotic systems
Nido Robotics’ aim is to become a global leader in the manufacturing of intelligent robots and their subsystems. According to Torgersen, this project has put the company on the path of achieving this goal: “The project allowed us to increase our team with some pretty amazing people. One of the unexpected values we got through the project was the business acceleration support, which has proved extremely valuable to us as a company.” Torgersen expects the Sibiu HCEV to hit the market by 2021. “Launching this underwater robot will be a significant milestone for our company, one that will put us in a leading position within the European market and one that will create substantial value for companies working within the blue economy,” adds Torgersen.
Sibiu HCEV, Nido Robotics, underwater robot, marine exploration, marine robotics, robotics, underwater systems, submarine drone, blue economy, hybrid remotely operated vehicle, HROV