Samsung Heavy Develops Self-Guided, Hull-Cleaning Robot

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South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries has announced the development of a underwater robot for cleaning the hulls of ships.

Think of it as a Roomba for the hull of a new ship. The robots will use underwater sensors to maintain a certain depth and direction, and to avoid obstacles attached to the hull exterior, according to SHI. The organic matter brushed off will be collected using a filter, therefore minimizing the environmental impact.

SHI says that these robots are expected to boost productivity because they will replace the task of re-docking and cleaning the hull prior to customer delivery.

The process of building an LNG carrier involves launching, mooring the ship at a dock, and then manufacturing the cargo hold. The process takes seven to eight months, plenty of time for the build up of organic matter such as barnacles, which can lead to less-than-efficient operation. For this reason, LNG carriers need go through re-docking to remove organic matter from the hull before delivery to the customer, SHI says.

But because these underwater hull-cleaning robots are able to remove organic matter at anchor, re-docking is unnecessary.

“The development of the robots would increase the competitiveness of our company in the LNG carriers market, as the robots are expected to enhance productivity,” claims a shipyard representative.

SHI notes that the robots are already fully tested and will be ready for service this November.

Photo courtesy Samsung Heavy Industries