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Sibiu HCEV: an Intelligent Hybrid High Capacity Electric Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Sibiu HCEV (Sibiu HCEV: an Intelligent Hybrid High Capacity Electric Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle)

Période du rapport: 2019-02-01 au 2019-07-31

With a coastline of 89,000 km, along two oceans, four seas and large overseas territories, Europe can be considered as a blue continent. Seas and oceans are important for human well-being and wealth, but they are also affected by human activities directly and indirectly. Marine robotics technologies play a key role in a wide range of functional applications including: a) environmental surveys, and assessment; scientific data collection and sampling b) oil and gas surveys c) harbour and border surveillance and protection d) critical infrastructures inspection (e.g wave and wind offshore energy installations) e) underwater farming and fish-farming etc...

The use of marine robots in industry, research and service applications has dramatically increased in the last 20 years. The market for underwater system is among the most valuable within professional service robots. Yet there are both technical and non-technical market barriers that need to be addressed, including but not limited to: a) low cost, easy to use, systems for persistent autonomous surveillance and monitoring operations b) lack of standardization and regulations c) underwater optical and acoustic communications, vision and localization d) combined vehicle-manipulator systems for underwater infrastructures inspection.

The overall objective of Nido Robotics with this innovation project is to introduce Sibiu HCEV in the high capacity electrical vehicle segment of the mini-ROV and UUV markets. In this context, the Sibiu HCEV is a disruptive underwater robot that will allow companies to harness cutting edge robotics technology in an easy to use format in order to reduce risk to personnel and operations, CAPEX and OPEX.
During Phase 1, Nido Robotics has carried out an exhaustive technical and economic feasibility study in order to analyse the development and launch of the new Sibiu HCEV. This feasibility study has been highly satisfactory so Nido Robotics will submit a proposal for Phase 2 in order to continue with the demonstration.

The main conclusions of the action have been the followings:

1. Technical feasibility analysis of the development of a fully integrated prototype of the Sibiu HCEV: Nido Robotics has carried out an exhaustive analysis in order to define the main characteristics of the new Sibiu HCEV.

2. Study of different use cases: the objective has been to define the requirements of usability and the specifications of usability and system interfaces assuring an early adoption by the end users (Underwater Asset Owners).

3. A comprehensive analysis of intellectual property rights and certifications required was performed in order to define the most appropriate IPR protection and the determination of the required certificates for the commercialization of the Sibiu HCEV in each geographical target market.

4. Partnership agreements with leading companies in vertical sectors to perform pilot tests in Phase 2: during Phase 1, Nido Robotics has achieved signing four Letter of Interest with several leading companies operating in different market segments in order to carry out pilot tests of the Sibiu HCEV in Phase 2.

5. A market analysis and the definition of the marketing and commercialization strategy to reinforce the knowledge about the new markets where the company envisages introducing the Sibiu HCEV was done. Furthermore, the company has identified the TAM (Total Addressable Market), SAM (Serviceable Addressable Market) and SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market) for the Sibiu HCEV.

6. Financial plan was developed to analyse the financial feasibility of the present project. Different scenarios were analysed depending on the annual sales volumes, estimating sales forecast, profits and losses, break-even analysis and an initial investment plan.

Business plan management has covered the entire project execution. During the 6 months we have monitored the activities and timescales, ensuring the success and efficient project execution according to the established objectives. The output of the task has been a comprehensive business plan.
During the Phase 1, Nido Robotics has carried out a comparison of the Sibiu HCEV with the state-of-the-art solutions. In accordance with the research, Nido Robotics has defined the main characteristics that the Sibiu HCEV will have to accomplish in order to be more competitive than other current solutions. In general terms, these characteristics will be related to the following parameters: Weight, Thrust, Depth rating, Power Supply, Autonomous Mode and Payload capacity.

On the other hand, the research has allowed validate that there are commercial solutions in the market that allow user to perform marine inspections. Nevertheless, all of them have limitations that constrain their application range. In this context, the Sibiu HCEV opens a new category with an unparalleled performance-size ration and with a competitive Total Cost of Ownership. The cost reduction will allow increasing the frequency of the inspections, improving safety and efficiency of the user’s installations. Moreover, the possibility of running the vehicle autonomously will reduce the piloting time needed for surveys and underwater works. Furthermore, the following tasks will be possible thanks to the new Sibiu HCEV: (i) navigating autonomously in and around structures without a tether, preventing it from getting caught / tangled and damaging itself or the structure; (ii) running as a standard ROV with a wide variety of onboard sensors, cleaning systems and other payloads while providing live high bandwidth data to surface, for pilots, surveyors and other stakeholders to make real-time decisions; (iii) carrying out a set of programmed routes working as resident H-ROV (this will reduce significantly the need of surface support; (iv) automatic detection of faults in autonomous mode, changing to remotely operated mode for in-detail inspection of the affected area, or when a corrective action is needed; (v) once level 3 autonomy is reached, the H-ROV can be used to i.e survey an asset without a live connection to the surface. It can be programmed to return a base station upon completion of the task, or upon any internal non-nominal conditions arising or in any other way prevented safely completing the task.
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