Thursday, October 21, 2021

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Robot fleet successfully completes mission for ocean exploration

The second phase of an ambitious project to gather valuable information on ocean processes and marine life using a fleet of innovative marine robots has just reached its conclusion. Co-ordinated by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), the Exploring Ocean Fronts project took place off southwest England and saw the largest deployment of robotic vehicles ever attempted in UK waters. The marine robots, which are powered by a combination of wave, wind and solar power, are controlled by satellite communications and can cover hundreds of kilometres in a single mission. In the latest phase of the project, three unmanned surface vehicles were used to track fish carrying acoustic ‘pingers’ off the Devon coast. About 85 fish, including rays, sole and plaice, were tagged and released by scientists from the Marine Biological Association (MBA), with the aim of understanding how these fish use Marine Protected Areas. The roaming robotic vehicles carried acoustic receivers and worked alongside a series of fixed receivers on the seabed in order to track fish movements inside and outside of the protected sites. Commenting on the fish-tracking trial, Professor David Sims of the MBA said: “The patrolling robots successfully located tagged fish, and also tracked the movements of ...

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Robots take over inspection of ballast tanks on ships

The University of Twente is one of a number of partners in the region around the border between Germany and the Netherlands that have contributed to a project to develop a robot for inspecting ballast tanks on board ships. The robot is able to move independently along rails built into the tanks. At the moment, people still carry out such inspections, with ships being brought into dry dock for the purpose. The costs can rise to € 700,000 per inspection. The RoboShip project offers great advantages, not only in terms of cost but also in terms of safety. RoboShip is an independent, intelligent robotic platform on rails for use within the shipping industry. The parties involved in the RoboShip project brought together a number of innovations in it. Imotect, for example, developed a smart, cost-efficient rail, while DFKI was responsible for an autonomous vehicle to run along the rails. Incas³ developed the sensors, Xsens developed the tank navigation system, and the University of Twente was responsible for ensuring that a thorough inspection of the ballast water tanks is carried out using the equipment. The Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany has now also joined the project and will be integrating RoboShip ...

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New technology sheds light on sea ice thickness

This under ice view shows the thick, jumbled structure of ice under an ice floe, which makes it very hard to dig holes through to the ocean surface. (Photo: ROV team)  Antarctic scientists have used an underwater robot to produce the first detailed three-dimensional maps of Antarctic sea ice, showing it may be thicker than previously thought. The research, published in Nature Geoscience, shows that ice floes are much thicker and more variable than previous ship-based ice drilling measurements have shown. The study was conducted during a United Kingdom-led voyage to the Weddell and Bellingshausen seas in 2010 and the Australian Antarctic Division-led Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystems eXperiment-II (SIPEX-II) in 2012. Co-lead author of the paper, Dr Guy Williams, from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, said the ‘autonomous underwater vehicle’ (AUV) technology had proved it could accurately measure and map ice thickness in difficult to access areas. “Over the two voyages, our teams covered some 500 000 square metres and mapped 10 ice floes, providing the most comprehensive and only high resolution three-dimensional view of sea ice structure to date,” Dr Williams said. Much like its surface, the underside of sea ice is often covered with ...

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BP’s New Core Flood Robot Enhances Oil Recovery Techniques

BP announced that it is now operating the world’s first robotic coreflooding system. The Core Flood Robot is the most recent addition to BP’s programme of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) research facilities. Coreflooding is one of the most important techniques used to identify and evaluate EOR technologies.  It measures the effectiveness of water or gas injected into an oil-bearing rock sample to displace oil. This can be used to assess the potential for water flooding in an oil field.  “The EOR technologies being developed by BP are vitally important to help increase global oil supplies,” said Ahmed Hashmi, BP’s head of upstream technology. “We believe this step-change in our core-flooding capability will hugely improve the speed and efficiency with which we can deploy new technologies to recover more oil from reservoirs.” BP has had a large-scale in-house coreflooding laboratory in the UK for many years, where reservoir samples can be tested at high pressure and temperature ‘reservoir conditions,’ and different reservoir types can be evaluated. The new robotic coreflood system operates for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The complete automation and work-flow optimisation in the new Core Flood Robot enables hundreds of coreflood tests to be performed ...

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