The UK is investing £26.6M (US$33.9M) to develop robotic technology for applications including aerial and underwater units that will inspect and maintain offshore wind turbines, reducing costs and making work safer.
UK Research and Innovation chief executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said the projects demonstrate how robots and artificial intelligence “will revolutionise the way we carry out complex and dangerous tasks, from maintaining offshore windfarms to decommissioning nuclear power facilities.”
Health and Safety Executive chair Martin Temple said, “The key purpose of the Health and Safety Executive is to save lives and prevent workplace injury and ill health. To achieve this, we need businesses to work with us and to be innovative in their thinking around managing risk in the workplace. New and emerging technologies are shaping our working environment. As a regulator we want to encourage industry to think about how technologies such as robotics and AI can be used to manage risk in the workplace, safeguarding workers both now and in the future world of work.”
The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund robotics challenge is a four-year programme that will develop robots to take people out of dangerous work environments and go into areas beyond human limits.
Among the projects are an autonomous inspection and intervention unit from a team led by Rovco; an autonomous robotic intervention system for extreme maritime environments led by Autonomous Surface Vehicles Ltd; a demonstrator for robotic inspection and maintenance of offshore wind turbine blades led by Bladebug Ltd; in-service X-ray radiography of the blades of offshore wind turbines (RADBLAD) led by Innvotek Ltd; an autonomous, robotic and AI-enabled biofouling monitoring, cleaning and management system for monopile foundations (RobFMS) led by Innovative Technology and Science Ltd; and an offshore infrastructure robotic inspection system (OSIRIS) demonstrator led by Autonomous Devices Ltd.
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