Things in the water tend to get algae, barnacles, mussels, etc… growing on them. With boats, this biofouling is a problem because it makes ships less efficient. A less efficient boat goes slower, uses more fuel, and expels more exhaust. Not good.
Additionally, some of these hitchhiking organisms end up traveling with the boat to non-native areas where they cause other issues.
Enter Jotun, a Norwegian company, who collaborated with a Swedish company, Semcon, to develop the HullSkater robot. The HullSkater is designed to work with a proprietary silyl acrylate-based hull coating. Once a ship has this coating the hull scrubbing robot can get to work using its four magnetized wheels. Each wheel has its own motor.
The craziest part of this robot is that it isn’t autonomous or ship controlled – instead, it is controlled remotely by Jotun staff. The remote staff use the HullSkater’s three cameras and four spotlights.
Video of the HullSkater in action after the break. (more…)