RoboFish is an autonomous underwater device that mimics the motion of a fish to navigate its way around complex underwater structures.
Known as a biomimetic autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), RoboFish has been designed as a safe, low-cost method of carrying out inspections of offshore wind turbines. Watch this video to find out more:
The role of offshore wind, including floating offshore wind energy, will grow significantly over the coming decades. It is forecast that by 2050, 12 per cent of the world’s primary energy supply will come from wind energy, and 20 per cent of this will come from offshore wind. However, ongoing wear and corrosion from the harsh sea environment drives up cost and introduces downtime to this supply.
Material corrosion is currently being inspected using underwater remotely operated vehicles which generally need tethers and a human operator, and are limited in their accessibility and manoeuvrability.
What will RoboFish do?
Our researchers are developing an agile and efficient biomimetic AUV which will continuously inspect the foundations of offshore wind turbines and drastically reduce human risk, maintenance costs, and operational constraints.
RoboFish replicates the full-body movement of an eel or trout allowing greater agility in close proximity to structures and better energy efficiency of movement compared to conventional AUV designs.
This prototype currently uses vision for close-range navigation and inspection of structures, with the ability to build complete visual models of the structure by using 3D reconstruction methods.
Future versions will use a range of on-board sensors to record data about the off-shore wind turbines' status as well as localising and communicating using underwater modems. RoboFish aims to be a low cost and very power efficient underwater platform and could be spun out to a successful commercial product.
Project activities and publications
Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Robotics and Autonomous Systems
Dr Post's research interests focus on technologies to make robots and vehicles fully autonomous for long periods and capable of mobility, sensing, and adaptability in harsh and distant environments.
Dr Gorma's research interests include multiple-access and medium access control and sharing for wireless radio and acoustic sensor networks in extreme environments.
This project is supported by the EPSRC Supergen ORE Hub Flexible Fund Program Grant number EP/S000747/1, with additional generous support provided by PicSea Ltd, East Coast Oil and Gas Engineering Ltd, and the UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. The support of the White Rose Collaboration Fund is also acknowledged for bringing together expertise from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, and York that directly benefits this project and future AUVs. To model and design a bio-inspired structure, our partner at the University of Strathclyde Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Marine Engineering, Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) & Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Research Group, led by Dr Qing Xiao, is performing fully coupled computation fluid dynamic simulations and developing both the structural design and the control system of this biomimetic robotic fish.