One of the three major heavy industrial manufacturers in Japan has signed an agreement that will see the world’s first test of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), undertaken in Scotland.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd (KHI) will carry out a verification test of a prototype AUV equipped with a robot arm for subsea pipeline inspection.
The test, scheduled for October at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, will be the first of its kind in the world, according to Kawasaki.
KHI has been developing leading-edge component technologies for AUVs with a focus on the growing demand for pipeline maintenance in offshore oil and gas fields.
In Tokyo, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP witnessed the signing of the agreement by Steve Ham, commercial director at The Underwater Centre, and Kawasaki leaders.
Ms Hyslop said:
“I am delighted that KHI, one of Japan’s major companies, has decided to develop this innovative technology in Scotland. It is fantastic news for The Underwater Centre in Fort William. Scottish Development International has worked hard to help secure this hugely significant agreement.
“KHI also has excellent links with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics at Heriot-Watt University, which is developing the control software and multi sensor algorithms for the AUV system to enable it to track pipes underwater.
“The SNP Government’s Subsea Action Plan, launched in January 2017, reflects our ambitions to support this important sector, not only in international oil and gas markets, but also to diversify into other sectors including renewables and deep-sea mining.”
Steve Ham, Commercial Director, The Underwater Centre said:
“The Underwater Centre is thrilled to support KHI during the testing of their AUV in our seawater test site. We have built up a very good relationship over the development and delivery of the project and we look forward to welcoming them back to Fort William later this year and in future.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“This is not an exciting one-off opportunity; it’s an agreement that states that The Underwater Centre will collaborate with KHI on future development of underwater vehicle technology.
“It shows that KHI is committed to further strengthening its partnership with the SNP Government and The Underwater Centre, in order to drive forward the development of technologies for AUVs and other underwater vehicles.
“This is good news for Scotland and shows we have the talent and resources to appeal to innovate companies across the globe.”