Greensea Launches Hull Cleaning Spin-off Armach Robotics

Armach’s small form factor hull service robot is man portable and promises near to 100% hull cleaning coverage. (Photo: Armach Robotics Inc)
Armach’s small form factor hull service robot is man portable and promises near to 100% hull cleaning coverage. (Photo: Armach Robotics Inc)

Marine software pioneer Greensea Systems Inc. has launched spin-off company Armach Robotics, that capitalizes on Greensea’s digital expertise to offer a subscription model robotic hull cleaning system using autonomy, intelligence and data fusion to tackle biofouling.

Armach Robotics is not a technology company and does not sell robots; it is a service provider offering a subscription for clean hulls and hull intelligence. Its resident cleaning robots to ships, ports, harbors and established service providers on a monthly subscription basis.

The in-water autonomous hull cleaning solution is capable of 100% coverage of the hull surface, excluding niche areas, and an accurate georeferenced hull condition survey is provided following each cleaning operation. The technology is not coating specific and is based on a state-of-the-art system, powered by Greensea’s autonomy, intelligence and data fusion technologies.

According to Armach, distinct advantages of its hull cleaning robot include its small platform enabling it to get into tighter spaces on the hull and make it one-man-portable, as well as caterpillar tracks that are kinder to hull coatings and a non magnetic adhesion to the hull, suitable for military vessels and non steel hulls. In addition, the use of a thoroughly tested brush system that is non destructive to the hull coating with the built-in system intelligence means it won’t overwork the coatings.

The system also reports back to the shipowner with valuable information, effectively creating a hull condition survey every time it cleans a hull. Any damage or corrosion is picked up early by the robot’s cameras and sensors, so a decision can be made on whether rectification is necessary or whether ongoing monitoring will suffice.

But Armach said the real "game changing" aspects of its system are its navigation and hull intelligence capabilities. With accurate navigation, robots can be autonomous, data can be referenced to the hull, and 100% coverage can be assured, the company said.

Rob Howard, VP Growth and Strategy at Armach Robotics, said, “Hull drag is time and money in the shipping business. The system we have devised represents the closest any company has got to fully autonomous hull cleaning. With our navigation solution, the robot’s route across the hull is optimized to within inches ensuring no areas are missed or over cleaned, so we can be efficient and fast in performing our service.”

Armach said it leverages Greensea’s proven navigation systems to ensure that the robot cleans the hull in the quickest and the most efficient way possible. As the robot cleans, the software operating it builds up an inch perfect "mental map" of every feature of the hull so it can be more efficient next visit, and it does so without the human input of divers or operators.

Ben Kinnaman, Greensea Systems and Armach Robotics CEO, said, “You can’t offer shipowners 100% hull cleaning coverage using an autonomous, robotic solution unless you have a very accurate navigation solution. We (Greensea) began working with the Office of (US) Naval Research back in 2018 on just a system to make proactive in-water cleaning with a robotic solution a reality for the first time. But we couldn’t find a manufacturer or vehicle partner that would enable us to enter this industry and achieve the level of potential that we saw. So we have spun the Greensea technology out into this new entity, Armach Robotics.”

Armach said it is currently in the "build it, prove it phase", which will allow it to build, develop and iterate the robotics platforms and prove that the technology and model work in the real world. The company is also working with first adopter partners toward a wider roll-out of pilot programs in 2022.

Armach’s bespoke on-hull navigation system is key to its business model (Image: Armach Robotics Inc)

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