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Kawasaki Heavy Industries Chooses Scotland for World-First UAV Test

Dominique Adams


OGTC ABB: Non Intrusive Inspection Survey

Scotland is set to host the world’s first verification test for an autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with a robot arm.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) announced this week, that a basic agreement has been reached with The Underwater Centre (TUC), a Scottish marine testing and training facility in Fort William to test its new prototype in Scotland.

The test, which is scheduled for October later this year, is according to KHI will be the first of its kind in the world. If successful, this unique prototype autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) will be used in future subsea pipeline inspections.

For the upcoming test, the company plans to focus on verifying two aspects of the AUVs capacity. Firstly, it will attempt to verify the robot arm’s capability to absorb the impact of the AUV’s movement due to tidal currents. Secondly, it will examine the AUV’s ability to continuously track a pipeline under rough sea conditions.

The prototype was developed in response to the growing demand for pipeline maintenance in offshore oil and gas and the Japanese company has other, potentially revolutionary, AUVs in the pipeline.

Great Potential for Further Tests at TUC

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Fiona Hyslop & a yellow submarineThis is not the first time KHI has partnered with TUC, in November 2017, the Japanese company successfully completed a verification test at TUC for automated underwater docking of a prototype AUV to its charging station, which involved contactless charging and large-capacity optical communication.

Steve Ham, Commercial Director, The Underwater Centre said: “The Underwater Centre has been really delighted 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.”

Fiona Hyslop, External Affairs Secretary, was present at the signing of the agreement between  Ham and Kenji Tomida, Vice President and Senior Executive Officer of KHI, which took place in Tokyo.

Hyslop said in her address: “I am delighted that Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd, 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 behind the scenes to help secure this hugely significant agreement.”

“Kawasaki 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 Scottish 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.”


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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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