The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is providing 12 million euros as part of the Maritime Research Program for the development of a novel autonomous submersible robotics system that will enable autonomous monitoring of underwater installations in the deep sea with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
Norbert Brackmann, member of the German Bundestag and the German government's coordinator for the maritime industry, presented the funding decision to the nine participants in the CIAM ("Cooperative Development of a Comprehensive Integrated Autonomous Underwater Monitoring Solution") project during an online event on April 30.
Brackmann commented: “I am pleased to be able to give the go-ahead today for a new marine technology project that is not only an example of the maritime industry's high innovative strength, but is also characterized by good cooperation between small and large companies, renowned universities and research institutions. As a future and growth industry, the maritime sector is actively shaping the maritime energy transition and investing in research and development. The future CIAM vehicles, which are expected to achieve particularly long mission durations, be deep-sea capable and yet relatively light, will be a step forward for German marine technology. With such innovative technologies for pipeline and submarine cable inspection, we are also strengthening our position on the world market.”
As part of the project unmanned submersible robotic systems with unprecedented autonomy will be developed and build, without the need for costly support vessels. These will monitor underwater assets and infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines, hydrogen lines, renewable energy power cables, and telecommunications cables, and help prevent damage to these assets.
Governments and businesses worldwide see the oceans as a driver of future economic development with great potential for innovation and economic growth. In this regard, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are an important component of expected future market developments for a variety of underwater applications.
The CIAM project aims to solve a key problem of unmanned submersible vehicles: namely, that AUVs have so far required large, costly support vessels, in addition to high risks associated with flooding the AUVs and retrieving them from the sea again. To date, in addition to the availability of skilled personnel, the availability of suitable vessels and AUVs has been a challenge, especially in urgent operational and emergency situations. Maritime applications also typically require a global presence. Therefore, flexible systems that can be deployed quickly and flexibly in any weather and sea state are needed, possibly with air cargo capability.
The CIAM approach aims to solve these challenges in a new class of unmanned submersible robotic systems controlled by artificial intelligence. These should be able to achieve particularly long mission durations and ranges, enable fully autonomous coast-to-coast operations, be capable of deep-sea operations and still be relatively light.
Hermann Rosen, President of the ROSEN Group, added: “The permanently high investments we have made so far in in-line inspection of onshore and offshore pipelines, broad manufacturing capability, system competence and, for some years now, also in our own AUV development, demonstrate our commitment and ambition to become a national champion and world market leader for autonomous underwater applications in this business field as well. In this context, we are very pleased to receive government support, which together with our partners should help us to achieve comparable international competitive conditions.”
Hermann Rosen, President of the ROSEN Group (on the left in the photo), at the handover of the funding decision by Norbert Brackmann, Coordinator of the German Government for the Maritime Industry (on the top right), to representatives of the nine participants of the CIAM project during an online event.
In addition to ROSEN, the consortium includes three other renowned universities, two research organizations and three technical experts from Rostock, Schwerin and Karlsruhe as project partners. Dr. Gunnar Brink, Head of Global Market Strategy for Subsea Asset Integrity at the ROSEN Group, coordinates the project consortium and is proud to be part of the team: “Especially in the last weeks and months of project preparation, it was a pleasure for me to see how much the partners in this project have grown together. We know each other. The partners have been carefully selected. Each project partner has the will to contribute to the success of the project with their individual contribution, in order to ultimately establish themselves at the top of the global competition in this business field.”
The Maritime Research Program is part of the maritime research strategy, which provides incentives for research and development to support the German maritime industry in tapping growth potential and strengthening its international competitiveness. In addition, the program serves to support the industry in developing sustainable technologies, in securing and expanding competitiveness, and in identifying climate and environmentally compatible solutions. The special interest lies in the creation and safeguarding of high-quality maritime jobs as well as in the improvement of maritime value creation in Germany.
The ROSEN Group is a leading global service provider for in-line inspections of pipelines. It initiated the CIAM project and will manage it responsibly. ROSEN defines itself as “empowered by technology”, as a company that provides sophisticated services worldwide with application of the latest technologies in harsh environments to protect people and the environment.
This project will advance the inspection of subsea assets, push the boundaries of deep learning applications and certainly reduce the carbon footprint.
About the partners
Although all partners complement each other, each specializes in a particular challenge to be addressed in the CIAM project.
FormLED GmbH is a young technology company specializing in electrotechnical developments. As a partner in the CIAM project, it will focus on solutions for the development and optimization of pressure-neutral subcomponents for the submersibles.
INNOMAR has been supplying equipment and software for marine and offshore applications for more than 20 years. The company's role in the CIAM project will be to optimize the sediment echosounder’s size, weight, energy requirements, pressure resistance and modes of operation for the AUVs.
balticFuelCells GmbH will focus on the fuel cell system for the AUV. The company specializes in the development of fuel cells and their integration into fuel cell systems.
The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH (DFKI) will contribute to the command and control of the long-range AUV systems.
As one of the partner universities, Technical University Berlin will focus on docking, charging and data transmission of the underwater AUVs.
HafenCity University Hamburg will contribute the development of inertial navigation systems and the method for autonomous docking of the system underwater.
The University Medical Center Freiburg will focus on the development of electric field sensors that can cope with the harsh underwater environment and measure highly sensitive corrosion protection.
GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel specializes in all relevant aspects of modern marine science. The institute will develop the AUV’s camera system and provide test platforms for the systems.
The official press release can be found here.