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Offshore engineering to benefit from autonomous underwater vehicles

The Swarms European project is developing vehicles capable of performing complex tasks in underwater environments autonomously using artificial intelligence.

The underwater autonomous vehicles are being developed that will reduce the risks associated with the construction and repair of offshore structures, work currently performed and monitored by divers.

To be used for repairs in ports, offshore platforms, and offshore wind turbines, the vehicles can also measure and monitor levels of suspended materials as a result of dredging operations and to measure the concentration of suspended solids in water, as well as seabed mapping.

These vehicles can work together in groups, communicating via acoustic modems, dispensing with the need for cables or human controllers.

The technology has already been tested in Spain, Romania and Norway. The first tests were carried out at the Plocan marine laborator and executed by Acciona in Gran Canaria, where the validity of the technology was verified in terms of both robotics and telecommunications. In the Black Sea, in Romania, it was used to measure the concentration of sulphuric acid in water; the trial in Trondheim Fjord, in Norway, consisted of tracking a freshwater plume in the sea.

The €17M (£15M) project is supported by 30 companies, universities and technology institutes from ten European countries. These include Acciona,Thales, Bosch and Boskalis and universities including  Madrid Technical University, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Mälardalen University Sweden and Aveiro University.

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