Tank inspection by cost effective rail based robots
Leif Christensen, Johannes Lemburg, Thomas Vögele, Frank Kirchner, Niklas Fischer, Reinhard Ahlers, George Psarros, Lars-Eric Etzold
In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Computer Applications in Shipbuilding, (ICCAS-11), 20.9.-22.9.2011, Trieste, o.A., Sep/2011.
Manual inspection and maintenance work in vessel tanks is a dangerous task that carries potential short- and long-term health risks for the humans involved. The German-Norwegian MARTEC ROT project has started to delegate this work to robots. Based on the yard and class requirements a robot based inspection system has been developed. This paper describes the technical concept and implementation of an autonomous 3D rail guided robot for inspection and maintenance tasks in ballast water tanks (BWTs). The system has been developed and tested in a complex test facility, which resembles an actual ballast water tank. The results of the robot�s performance tests will be shown in the paper. The robot consists of different connected flexible modules for different
purposes (sensor, computing, drive train, manipulator, power supply) which can be rearranged or extended to the specific needs of the task at hand. In contrast to locomotion techniques for climbing or walking robots on steel, the proposed concept makes use of a simple corrosion-free and thermoplastic rail that can be freely arranged in-place and that allows for high payloads and upside-down operations of the robot. The end users requirements (class, yard, etc.) for inspection, maintenance and repair will be described as well as the results of the life cycle cost analysis which has supported the whole development process to assure a cost effective robot system. An outlook for future additional applications including maintenance will be given.