University of Limerick launches €2 million underwater robot

Jess Casey

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Jess Casey

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jess.casey@limerickleader.ie

University of Limerick launches €2-million underwater robot

Cathal O’Donnell, University of Limerick CRIS , runs through checks on ROV Étaín before the launch of the €2 million robot at the Limerick docks Picture: Sean Curtin True Media

A NEW state-of-the-art €2-million underwater robot has been unveiled by the University of Limerick at the Limerick docks this Monday. 

The new Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) system, to be used in the marine renewable energy sector, has been enhanced by researchers at the UL Centre for Robotics and Intelligence Systems (CRIS) with advanced control software developed at the university.  

The ROV Étaín has also been enhanced with precision navigation and flight control, state-of-the-art robotic imaging and sonar systems and fully automated manipulator systems.

These advanced features allow the robot to operate in challenging environments associated with ocean renewable energy to support inspection, repair and maintenance operations.

Advanced robotics technology developed at UL will be crucial in supporting the burgeoning marine renewable energy sector, according to UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald. 

“It will also play a significant role in reducing the cost of installing and maintaining large-scale offshore energy generation infrastructure.” 

“I am particularly happy to see this advanced UL technology being developed, trialled and launched in Limerick City docks.” 

“The UL robotics base at the docks is just one of our commitments to grow and maintain strong links between the campus and the heart of Limerick city, with strategic partners like Shannon Foynes Port Company,” he added. 

Operation support in the marine renewable energy sector usually occurs on floating infrastructures, according to Professor Daniel Toal, director of CRIS at UL. 

“This means new smart ROV systems capability is necessary and that is what our team at UL has developed and launched today.”

The offshore renewable energy sector internationally is set to rapidly grow, which will help to reduce carbon emissions and arrest climate change, according to Minister of State Pat Breen. 

“Ireland has the best wind and wave resources in Europe and it is vital that as an island nation we invest and engage in research in the area of marine energy technology.”