CORDIS - EU research results

Remotely Operated Tanker Inspection System II (ROTIS II)

Final Report Summary - ROTIS II (Remotely Operated Tanker Inspection System II)

The project ROTIS II aimed at developing a robotic system designed to perform inspections of ship's ballast tanks. It can operate on oil tankers, dry- and mixed cargo carriers or FPSO. The purpose of the project was to prepare and test a prototype in real-life conditions.

Prior to inspection a ship must be made fully available at the harbour area, all access spaces must be made safe (for example, degassed) and prepared accordingly, often in dry dock, thus resulting in a considerable ship idle time and, consequently, a significant cost. In the case of big, double hull tankers it can easily amount to multiples of USD 100 000.The introduction of double hull vessels is widely seen as the response to the need of preventing maritime catastrophes such as the one of the Prestige oil tanker. However, to be effective, it must be coupled with measures towards more efficient and cost effective inspection procedures. Adequate tools must be provided to the surveyors, ship owners, as well as to state and port authorities providing them with the capacity to perform, through diagnostic or tale-operated equipment, rapid but safe and reliable inspections.

The ROTIS II system's main characteristics are as follows:
- The ROTIS small vehicle is introduced within flooded ballast tanks, between the inner and the outer hull, and has therefore access to virtually all cells and structural parts of a double hull vessel through standard man-holes and openings.
- Dexterous 3 joint arm to reach all surfaces, also webs and flanges of the stiffeners.
- The system can operate on a transiting vessel as well as in harbour.
- ATEX compliant system, can be deployed on loaded tankers.
- Weather-independent operation controlled remotely thanks to wireless system architecture.
- Reaches everywhere in the tank without risk of entanglement due to on-board tether drum.
- Components of the ROTIS system are two-man transportable.

The ROTIS II system consists of three main parts:
- Remotely operated vehicle (ROV): a purpose-designed small ROV fitted with six cameras and a NDT ultrasound probe. The ROV is powered and controlled through a long, thin, and neutrally buoyant umbilical which provides a medium for power and data transmission. The umbilical is paid in and out from a tether management system embedded on board the ROV.
- Intermediate unit (IU): power and relay station providing energy to the ROV and a passing communication between the ROV and the control station. The IU is placed close to the entrance hatch of the ballast tank and complies with rules for use in explosive atmosphere (ATEX).
- Control station (CS): wirelessly connected computer console to serve as a human-machine interface (HMI) to operate the ROV and to log inspection data. The CS can be placed in a safe area, i.e. in the ship's control room, and communicates with the IU through a wireless data link.

ROTIS II is designed with portability and ease of deployment in mind. The system is enclosed in three separate boxes, each portable by two men. It is easily shipped by air.