SWARMS PROJECT DEVELOPS AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES FOR UNDERWATER REPAIR WORKS
Acciona, a supplier of sustainable infrastructure solutions and a member of the SWARMS European R&D programme is developing autonomous vehicles for underwater work using artificial intelligence.
The SWARMS project aims to expand the use of underwater and surface vehicles (AUVS, ROVS, USVS) to facilitate the conception, planning and execution of maritime and offshore operations and missions.
Underwater autonomous vehicles, when brought to market, will reduce the risks associated with the construction and repair of offshore structures, work currently performed and monitored by divers. They can be used for repairs in ports, offshore platforms, offshore wind turbines, etc, and to measure and monitor levels of suspended materials as a result of dredging operations and the concentration of suspended solids in water. The vehicles can work together in groups (or swarms, hence the project name), communicating via acoustic modems, dispensing with the need for cables or human controllers.
The technology has been tested in three use cases in Spain, Romania and Norway. The first tests were carried out at the PLOCAN marine laboratory (executed by Acciona) in Gran Canaria, where the validity of the technology was verified in terms of both robotics and telecommunications. In the Black Sea, in Romania, it was used to measure the concentration of sulphuric acid in water; the trial in Trondheim Fjord, in Norway, consisted of tracking a freshwater plume in the sea. The project also includes designing a video-gamelike user interface designed to enable vehicles to be managed without the need for specific training in robotics.
The project budget is €17 million. It involves 30 companies, universities and technology institutes from ten European countries (Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Romania, Turkey, Italy). Other participating companies include Leonardo, Thales, Bosch, Boskalis and Tecnalia and universities such as Madrid Technical University, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Mälardalen University Sweden and Aveiro University.