Armach Robotics, the robotic hull-cleaning subscription service company launched last year as a Greensea spin-off, has launched its first post-prototype Hull Service Robot.
Armach said that the robot is a disruptive technology in hull cleaning, being man-portable at under 66lbs (30kgs) and around 34 inches (86cm) long, greatly reducing deployment costs and increasing convenience. The robot was recently launched for its first in-water trials at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
James Truman, Armach’s VP of Engineering says: “My favorite job in this industry is working on next-generation systems. The team learns so much in the development and testing of a product for a new application but once a vehicle is sufficiently functional then the pace of design evolution slows dramatically. Designing the next generation, once you have a good understanding of the requirements and have developed proven key components, is an amazing opportunity.”
The original prototypes consisted of off-the-shelf navigation systems, a custom crawler skid, and a separate ROV all bolted together, but as James explains, there were more efficient ways of integrating this equipment in the finalized vehicle: “It worked well in the prototypes but was expensive and clunky. For the purpose-built Armach HSR we stripped out a lot of the structural and electrical overhead from the prototypes. That gave us a smaller, lighter, and more streamlined vehicle that can operate in faster water currents and on lower friction coatings. We've tested extensively to minimize hull-coating impact and will continue accelerated life testing and design iteration to ensure long term reliability."
For the HSR vehicle, Armach designed and is producing the electro-mechanical drive and cleaning components in-house because it needed not only high power-density and unique packaging but also precision control and feedback, the company said.
"This bespoke approach pays dividends when it comes to in-water usability and control, along with the quality of the hull data fed back: “The resulting performance driving on a hull as well as the free-flying stability are amazing. The networked architecture and SAFEC2 functionality mean we can monitor or control the vehicles from anywhere in the world,” adds James.
"Armach offers shipowners a "proactive, autonomous in-water robotic cleaning solution. The company’s ‘Robot as a Service’ solution simply offers shipowners a constantly clean hull and following each cleaning operation provides an accurate georeferenced hull condition survey. The technology is not coating specific and is based on a state-of-the-art system, powered by Greensea’s autonomy, intelligence and data fusion technologies. Armach’s business model provides cleaning robots to ships, ports, harbors, and established service providers on a monthly subscription basis," Armach said.