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The ARTIFEX project develops game changing technologies for remote and autonomous operations at sea-based fish farms. The project results are yielding leading products and services for aquaculture, which is the fastest growing food producing business worldwide.

Figure 1, Illustration of the ARTIFEX concept (A.M. Lien, SINTEF Ocean AS)

The main objective is to develop robots for remote and autonomous inspection, maintenance and repair operations. In particular, an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) is used as a platform for carrying a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) for underwater operations, and a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for airborne inspection tasks. The USV is expected to travel to different fish farms, execute inspection and light intervention operations with no personnel required on site, and return to its land base. Therefore, the project results are enabling unmanned operation at sea-based aquaculture facilities and are making it possible to execute risk free operations at exposed sites in tough weather conditions as well as to extend the weather window for activities at sheltered locations. The robotic platform will be followed and remotely controlled from a control center located on land.

Activities are ongoing within 4 major areas:

Market analysis:

An analysis was conducted to investigate in details the commercial opportunities for the Artifex solution and the technology that the project is developing.

Ship design and onboard equipment

A catamaran-type hull has been chosen and the correct shape and dimensions have been selected. Most of the functional details have been defined and the seakeeping capabilities of the craft have been determined through simulations. The next step is to build the vessel. Furthermore, a mock-up is being built and tested for the ROV launch-and-recovery system.

Autonomous systems and operator interaction

The required degrees of autonomy have been determined for the different operations that the Artifex vessel is expected to perform. This represents fundamental input information for: proper interaction between the mothership and the peripheral vehicles, operation planning, decision making, safety and identification of abnormal events.

Airborne operations

A drone has been chosen and a launch-and-recovery system and tether handling system are being developed. Various solutions are also investigated on how to integrate the drone into the structure of the USV.

Underwater operations

A system that controls the length and tension of the ROV tether is being developed using an automated winch. The ROV navigation and motion control systems are being improved to ensure accurate control of the robot in order to successfully perform the planned inspection and intervention operations. A robot arm is also being developed that will be mounted on the ROV so that the Artifex USV will be able perform intervention tasks as well. The arm will be tested on the ROV in 2019.

Project partners

  1. Maritime Robotics AS
  2. Argus Remote Systems AS
  3. Lerow AS
  4. NTNU
  5. WavEC
Published 31 May 2018
Senior Research Scientist
944 84 152

Project duration

2016 - 2018

Budget: 18 million NOK