A major Japanese industrial corporation has signed an agreement that will see the world’s first test of an autonomous underwater vehicle carried out in Scotland.
The test, scheduled for October at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, will be the first of its kind in the world, according to Kawasaki, which is developing underwater drones for pipeline maintenance in offshore oil and gas fields.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries will carry out a verification test of a prototype subsea drone equipped with a robot arm for subsea pipeline inspection.
As a purpose-built subsea training and trials facility, The Underwater Centre’s pier complex includes four dive stations, classrooms, workshops and decompression chambers plus mechanical and electrical workshops, a 1.5 million litre indoor tank and classrooms as part of the ROV training suite.
In November 2017, Kawasaki successfully completed a 15-day verification test at The Underwater Centre for the automated underwater docking of a prototype AUV to its charging station, involving contactless charging and large-capacity optical communication.
In Tokyo, Scotland’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop witnessed the signing of the agreement by Steve Ham, commercial director at The Underwater Centre from Fort William, and Kawasaki leaders.
Hyslop said: “I am delighted that Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd, one of Japan’s major companies, has decided to develop this innovative technology in Scotland. It is fantastic news for The Underwater Centre in Fort William.
“Kawasaki also has excellent links with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics at Heriot-Watt University, which is developing the control software and multi sensor algorithms for the drone to enable it to track pipes underwater.”
6 Jul 2018