UK offshore wind workers could soon be kept safe using a remotely operated search and rescue service, thanks to a pioneering project backed by £7M (US$10M) of UK Government support
The project is one of 38 business-led projects which will receive funding to accelerate their robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology as part of a drive to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway announced the winning projects at the 2021 Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Industry Showcase.
Located across the UK, the projects will help to transform key UK industries and sectors – from life sciences to offshore energy – by making them safer and more productive. The funding forms part of the government’s commitment to invest in groundbreaking research and raise economy-wide investment in research and development to 2.4% by 2027.
The Minister said, “We are throwing our weight behind the most transformative technologies because innovation is at the very core of our plans to build back better from the pandemic, drive productivity and grow the economy.
“From a first-of-its-kind automated rescue service for UK offshore energy workers, to drone technology delivering for our NHS, these robotics technologies could be game changing as part of our continued efforts to tackle global challenges – from pandemic preparedness to climate change.
Offshore Survival Systems in Edinburgh is being backed to develop a first-of-its-kind search and rescue service which will use a network of semi-autonomous unmanned rescue vessels (URVs) to save lives at sea.
The company said the resident search and rescue solution creates opportunities to optimise windfarm layouts “which have been constrained by search and rescue provision.” It eliminates the need for safety standby vessels and provides a rapid response.
In recent months, the company has completed resistance, propulsion, manoeuvring, directional and dynamic stability trials at QinetiQ’s Haslar Ocean Basin. The company also recently secured Offshore Wind Growth Partnership funding to develop AI-enabled casualty detection technology.
In 2020, Offshore Survival Systems completed free fall vessel testing at Haslar and completed what it claims is the first unmanned casualty recovery in open water.
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