ROBOTICS experts at Scottish universities hope to maximise the potential to use the technology offshore to help speed the energy transition under an initiative funded by the Government.

They will work on a programme that will include demonstration projects which will involve using robots to complete vital tasks such as the inspection of wind turbine foundations.

It is hoped that the use of robotics in such areas could minimise the safety risks involved in operating offshore while reducing the associated costs.

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Specialists at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University will work on the project under the ORCA Hub programme.

Yvan Petillot, professor of robotics and autonomous systems at Heriot-Watt University, said: “Robots have the potential to carry out inspection and maintenance in hazardous environments, reducing the risks of putting divers into the water in harsh conditions or workers operating at height on wind turbines.”

He added: “The long-term industry vision is for a digitised offshore energy field, operated, inspected and maintained from the shore using robots, digital architectures and cloud-based processes to realise this vision.”

Mr Petillot has been appointed director of the ORCA Hub, which has been awarded a further £2.5 million funding from UK Research & Innovation to support work on offshore projects.

The Hub was founded in 2017 and led by Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh. It is run in collaboration with Imperial College London, Liverpool and Oxford universities.

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Me Petillot succeeds Professor David Lane of Heriot-Watt University. Mr Lane said the ORCA Hub’s successes include the development of autonomous drones that can inspect offshore turbines.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “Advancements in robotics will be essential to meeting the UK’s ambitious climate targets.”