Underwater Maintenance via Robot

Crack Detection, Application of Anti-Corrosion Coatings, Navigation and 3D-Imaging

© Fraunhofer IOSB-AST


The expansion of offshore wind energy worldwide is leading to an increased need for underwater maintenance and repair. Maintenance work is also required in coastal areas and in inland waters, for example on port facilities, docks, ships and dams. The accomplishment of this task with industrial divers is subject to natural limitations due to tidal currents, wave action and weather events. Each operation poses a risk to the life and limb of the divers. Technical solutions for the accomplishment of the tasks do not exist at present or the operators must accept high costs as well as complicated application procedures.

Short description of the project

The consortium of the Fraunhofer Institutes IGD, IGP, IKTS and IOSB is equipping a low-cost underwater vehicle with technology that enables a wide range of diverless underwater intervention tasks such as cleaning, repair and coating on offshore structures in an automated manner. To this end, Fraunhofer IGP is working on a underwater application of anti-corrosion coatings that partially repairs the corrosion protection of underwater structures. The non-destructive detection of cracks in underwater foundations is made possible by a solution developed by Fraunhofer IKTS. A compact underwater vehicle, which is enabled by Fraunhofer IOSB-AST for exact positioning, serves as a carrier system for the described end effectors. The navigation of the vehicle is supported by an optical position tracking system from Fraunhofer IGD. With the help of a stereo camera and innovative image enhancement algorithms developed by Fraunhofer IOSB, a three-dimensional capture of the object to be processed is made possible.

Fields of application

The project can be applied in the following areas:

  • Offshore wind farm operators
  • Port companies
  • Shipping companies

Smart Ocean Technologies research group