Drone gets to the bottom of dirty hulls
A Nelson couple have sunk thousands of dollars into a new venture they hope will help clean up Nelson’s waterways.
Brent Henderson and Charmaine Gardner of Abel Marine are the first New Zealand agents for Keelcrab, an underwater drone designed to carry out cleaning and hull inspection activities of sailing boats of any size, yachts and maxi yachts.
The Italian-made technology cost the couple $15,000 to bring to New Zealand, after two months of due diligence and communicating with the device’s creator, Fabio Terzaghi.
The drone can cover a 1.5 square metre distance per minute.
The estimated cleaning time on a 15m vessel was 80 minutes or 110 minutes for an 18m vessel.
The Keelcrab will complement Abel Marine’s existing vessel servicing business, allowing boats to remain in the water while being cleaned, without removing any anti-foul on the hull.
The drone has LED lights and a video camera and is operated through a remote control system.
A vacuum force is generated by a central turbine driven by a brushless motor, which performed the dual function of keeping the robot attached to the hull while removing algae formed under the vessel.
The movement is driven by rubber brushes on tracks that allow movements in all directions.
Footage captured by the camera can then be recorded to an SD card for the client to download.
Henderson and Gardner appreciated the benefits that the Keelcrab provided in keeping their own boat in the Nelson Haven clean, as well as helping to improve the wider marine environment.
‘‘Owning a boat used to be quite enjoyable, but with all the rules and regulations you have now it started to be a bit of a mission so we thought this should make it way easier.
‘‘It’s just to try keep the waterways and marinas clean and make it easier for the boaties really, so if the travelift breaks down it’s another avenue and an affordable thing that people can use.’’
Henderson hoped their new venture would bring more boats to Nelson as owners looked for an efficient way to maintain the biosecurity of their vessels.
He said with the rights held to New Zealand as well as Australia the plan was to focus on first establishing Keelcrab in the top of the south before looking further afield next year.
Long term, Gardner said they were working on certification to service boats bound for Antarctica and had been in discussions with the New Zealand Navy and shipping companies.
Brent Henderson and Charmaine Gardner with the Keelcrab underwater drone their company Abel Marine will use to clean boat hulls.