Magnetic crawler robots for marine antifouling

Shipping company Lomar is working with Texas startup Alicia Bots to use mini magnetic robots for anti-fouling hull grooming that could help reduce maritime emissions.

Alicia Bots

Alicia Bots’ ROVERCLEAN 3.0 is a multi-purpose magnetic crawler robot that can operate autonomously or remotely via a tether cable. Designed to carry out underwater inspection and maintenance tasks on ships and other steel structures, the robots are claimed to deliver a reduction in hull fouling, helping to reduce fuel consumption, costs, and carbon emissions. Lomar is set to deploy Alicia Bots’ robotic technology on up to fifteen of its vessels.

“Our collaboration with Lomar is a testament to them and the maritime industry's commitment to innovation and sustainability,” said Alicia Bots CEO Inder Mukhopadhyay.  

“Together, we are ushering in a new era of hull grooming, where cutting-edge technology, like the ROVERCLEAN, not only ensures a clean hull at all times but also paves the way for a greener and more efficient maritime future."

Combining precision robotics and AI-powered analytics, the magnetic crawlers are said to enable safer, more efficient practices across a range of maritime practices. Apart from hull grooming, the minibots are slated for use in cargo hold cleaning, firefighting, corrosion detection, reparation assistance, data collection, underwater inspections, and thickness measurements.

“The dawn of AI has significantly altered the way we view technology as a tool to facilitate our maritime industry’s routine operations,” said Lomar CEO Nicholas Georgiou.

“Lomar is committed to supporting the development, fine-tuning and implementation of promising technological solutions that will transform our operational and environmental effectiveness. In the race to create autonomous systems to support hull cleaning and other essential maintenance jobs on vessels, Alicia Bots has developed stand-out systems that provide huge potential for transforming existing labour-intensive maintenance processes with more efficient and effective AI technology while also saving on fuel costs and emissions.”

Lomar’s corporate venture arm lomarlabs will also be involved in the collaboration, providing insight into the development of robotics to support maritime operations, particularly on the potential for autonomous marine drones. It’s claimed this new technology has the potential to reduce the need to send humans into dangerous environments for essential maintenance work, such as underwater diving operations for cleaning.