The US Office of Naval Research recently conducted tests with a developmental ship hull grooming robot, called the Robotic Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming (HULL BUG) tool. The HULL BUG is similar in concept to a autonomous robotic home vacuum cleaner or lawn mower and incorporates the use of a biofilm detector that utilizes modified fluorometer technology to enable the robot to detect the difference between the clean and unclean surfaces on the hull of a ship. Credit: US Navy
As the U.S. Navy minimizes its dependence on foreign oil, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is a front runner in supporting and bringing forth innovative solutions to fuel consumption challenges.
“One of the avoidable costs in fuel for the Navy is related to marine fouling such as barnacles that accumulate on ships,” says ONR Program Officer Steve McElvany. “They create increased drag as these ships move from port to port across the world’s oceans.”
Known as a “hard fouler” for ships worldwide, colonized barnacles and biofilms on the hull of a Navy ship translate into roughly 500 million dollars annually in extra maintenance and fuel costs that are required to keep ships free of barnacles, oysters, algae and other marine life. …
the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Carderock (NSWCCD) estimates that biofouling reduces vessel speed by up to 10 percent. Vessels can require as much as a 40 percent increase in fuel consumption to counter the added drag.