Armach Robotics, Inc. (Armach), recently passed a critical milestone during a trial of its Hull Service Robot in full over-the-horizon (OTH) mode.
At the end of 2022, Armach’s hull service robot (HSR), in the water in Norfolk, VA, was monitored and controlled by staff at Armach’s command center in Plymouth, MA, using a 4G modem providing over-the-air connectivity. During the trial, the Plymouth-based operator was able to fly the robot from its launch point at the pier, and make a controlled approach to the side of the ship. Once successfully established on the ship’s hull, a short test cleaning protocol was commenced. Utilizing Safe C2, a distance operation solution by marine robotics specialist Greensea Systems, Inc., the trial demonstrated a unique advanced intervention task with an ROV, different from more traditional ROVs, representing another important milestone for Armach and its implication for industry use.
During the trial, the HSR further demonstrated its obstacle detection and avoidance feature, its ability to recognize objects in its planned path of transit, autonomously navigate around these, and return to its originally planned path of operation.
This technological advancement in remotely operated in-water operation is expected to have a major impact on the efforts by the shipping industry to reach its decarbonization goals. The ability to deliver autonomous, efficient cleaning on micro-fouling means the cleaning process can be conducted in short time frames, and does not impact on the vessels’ in-port turnaround time.
In addition to installation of these robotic units in port infrastructure, they are set to become resident on ships of all classes, able to conduct hull cleaning maintenance at the convenience of the vessel's schedule, irrespective of its location around the globe.
A value-add to Armach’s proposition is that the system provides a previously unprecedented level of ‘Hull Intelligence’, effectively creating a hull condition survey every time it cleans a hull. This allows owners to understand their hull condition in ‘real time’ and make decisions that will save time and money. This key milestone will allow Armach to continue to build, develop and iterate the robotics platforms, and continue working with early adopters before expanding further.