Kraken project confirms concept viability for robotic arm in ocean energy applications

WavEC announces completion of the Kraken project, which set out to develop a robotic arm to be used with remotely operated vehicles (ROV) to inspect, repair and maintain offshore structures, specifically for ocean energy devices.

Led by WavEC in Portugal, and involving four project partners from three countries, the Kraken project’s strategic goal was to develop and manufacture three components: a seven degree of freedom (eight function) 3D printed titanium robotic arm, a mechanical docking system and an intuitive human robot master interface.

The Kraken participants at project conclusion were WavEC Offshore Renewables (project coordination), Instituto Superior Técnico (Portugal), ULPGC – Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) and mCADFEM (Ireland).

The Kraken project team has spent four years developing this concept, which brings mature, proven telemanipulation technologies from surgical rooms into the deep sea, according to a press release.

The Kraken team’s demonstrator confirmed the concept’s viability. “The knowledge we have gained so far has already enabled us to achieve a considerable level of confidence and success, when approaching very challenging developments,” the partners said. “There is still room for improvement, as the project still needs to finalize the assembly of the control system with the hardware”.

The project team has received positive feedback from experts. “We’ve seen a great deal of interest from experts in the sector” says project manager Miguel Cerezo from WavEC. “And this enthusiastic response has also inspired our industry partners like Sintef Ocean, or Argus”.

Robotic arms available on the market have grown and evolved technically, which shows the increased demand for these products. However, the existing robotic arms are below the level of development of the Kraken, which is differentiated by its seven degrees of freedom + one function, the optical sensor control system, and its relationship between lifting capacity and weight by placing all the actuators at the base of the arm.

The project was financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Canary Islands Agency for Research, Innovation and Society of Information (GOBCAN-ACIISI) and Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) through OCEANERA-NET (Ocean Energy European Research Area Network).

WavEC is an offshore renewable energy research center whose activity spans all areas of project development, including offshore technology, numerical modelling, environmental impact assessment, economic studies, licensing and public awareness. WavEC has participated in about 20 EC-funded projects and numerous projects with demonstration and monitoring of offshore renewable energy technologies since 2003.

FCT is the Portuguese public agency that supports science, technology and innovation in all scientific domains, under responsibility of the Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education. ACIISI is under the dependency of the titular person in the Regional Government of the Canary Islands Presidency (GOBCAN). SEAI was established as Ireland’s national energy authority under the Sustainable Energy Act 2002, with a mission to play a leading role in transforming Ireland into a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices.

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