The Growing Field of Robotic Hull Cleaning Gains a New Entrant
The growing industry of robotic hull cleaning has a new entrant from Vermont-based Armach Robotics, a spinoff of the navigation software company Greensea.
Armach's updated robotic device enters a thriving, competitive field with at least seven technology developers (including service providers with their own robotic systems). The company aims to differentiate itself from the competition by the precision of its robot's navigation system, which can provide a high degree of assured hull coverage and first-pass success, the firm says. Since Armach has addressed the question of precision positioning, it says that the robot can also acquire accurate data on hull coating condition - not just in general terms, but indexed to specific points on the surface.
The new device is man-portable and weighs 66 pounds, making it less cumbersome than some of the other units on the market (some of which use a small crane for handling). Armach achieved the compact form factor by stripping out the weight of the off-the-shelf components it used to build its first prototypes, yielding a "smaller, lighter and more streamlined vehicle that can operate in faster water currents and on lower friction coatings," says VP of engineering James Truman.
Armach is manufacturing many of the core components in-house to attain the precision and performance it wants for its specific application. The control system architecture allows its technicians to monitor and operate the vehicle from anywhere in the world.
The company's business model is also different. Instead of selling its equipment (like SeaRobotics HullBug) or operating port-based robotic cleaning services (like GAC HullWiper or Neptune Robotics), Armach offers shipowners, ports, harbors and established service providers a way to obtain their own cleaning robot for a monthly subscription.