SafetyAccelerator Alicibots

Cargill trials automated data collection, robotic hull cleaning solutions

Swiss freight trader Cargill has completed two pilot projects with Safetytech Accelerator, a dedicated technology accelerator established by Lloyd’s Register, involving robotic hull cleaning solutions and automated data collection from ship machinery.

Image credit: SafetyAccelerator

The projects were selected as part of Safetytech Accelerator’s Waypoint program, which seeks to accelerate the integration of innovative technology companies into the maritime market.

The maritime risk round of the program received over 100 applications from technology companies worldwide. After careful consideration and shortlisting, six companies were invited to pitch their solutions, with eyeGauge and Alicia Bots emerging as the selected technology partners.

The first pilot project involved eyeGauge’s digital transformation technology, which captures and consolidates vessel data, including readings from both analog and locked-down digital equipment. The challenge addressed the complexities of manual data collection and the limited availability of real-time data on merchant fleets due to expensive and intricate retrofit digitalization solutions.

During the six-month pilot on two bulk carriers chartered by Cargill, eyeGauge deployed smart cameras powered by patented technology to collect data from volumetric flow meters and non-invasively extract data from modern fuel conditioning systems. Additionally, eyeGauge’s solution captured live main engine and generator performance data, providing insights into vessel performance and condition. The collected data was transferred to the Cloud and made available for integration with third-party analytical platforms.

The remarkable collaboration among the three parties resulted in highly positive feedback from Cargill. However, our partnership doesn’t end there. Armed with valuable insights and key takeaways from this pilot, we are determined to enhance our offerings and continue creating even more value for our current and future clients,” Rodion Denisuyk, CEO eyeGauge, said.

EyeGauge’s technology showcased the potential to enhance vessel fuel consumption, reduce emissions, optimize maintenance, and ultimately improve vessel performance and environmental compliance.

Cargill and eyeGauge will continue to collect data and integrate with 3rd party software to uncover actionable insights.

Alicia Bots’ hull cleaning solution

The second pilot project centered around Alicia Bots’ underwater RoverClean technology, designed to inspect and clean hulls while the vessel is in motion. Currently, hull cleaning is primarily conducted by divers when ships are stationary at ports, posing safety risks and extending the time spent at ports.

What is more, 60% of ports around the world currently do not have access to cost-efficient and sustainable hull cleaning services, most European ports also prohibit hull cleaning whilst a vessel is berthed. 

The RoverClean robot, equipped with magnetic wheels, cleaning brushes, cameras, SONAR, and a control unit, aims to address these challenges.

During a five-month pilot on two bulk carriers chartered by Cargill, the RoverClean robot successfully inspected up to 100 meters of the ship’s hull and detected heavy barnacle fouling and previous hull damage using SONAR as the vessels sailed between Singapore, Panama, and the US.

The RoverClean robot was deployed from the midship to carry out complete hull mapping and subsequent cleaning of the ship’s sides and flat bottom.

The pilot served as a major learning curve for the company as numerous practical matters were established, including that certain plastic components needed to be replaced with aluminum ones as well as that 11 knots were found to be the ideal speed for cleaning.

In addition, although the robot was able to manoeuvre over thick barnacles, upon recovery to the deck it was observed that the tyre rubber suffered heavy damage. Tyres are a consumable item but in future, spares will be shipped in case heavy fouling is unexpectedly encountered.

“Safetytech Accelerator proved to be an indispensable catalyst in building customer traction for Alicia Bots’ robotic underwater hull cleaning solution. Through strategic guidance and invaluable industry connections, Safetytech Accelerator empowered us to showcase our innovation to key stakeholders and maritime experts worldwide,” Inder Mukhopadhyay, CEO of Alicia Bot, said.

With Safetytech Accelerator’s backing, we forged strategic partnerships and secured multiple pilot projects, solidifying our position as the go-to solution for efficient and eco-friendly hull grooming and inspection.

Currently, 75% of the world’s fleet perform hull cleaning only when fuel consumption increases by 7-15%. Having a hull cleaning robot permanently located on a ship allows for more frequent inspections, cleaning and greater compliance with regulations.

Since the start of this pilot, Alicia Bots have begun providing cleaning services in several ports in Asia and Americas to help accelerate hull cleaning. For companies wishing to carry cleaning robots onboard, Alicia Bots now offer training for crews so they can operate the robots themselves. As mentioned previously, most European countries prohibit hull cleaning at port. Alicia Bots are developing bio-capturing features for their robots which may allow them to operate in Europe in the future.

The ship’s hold also requires cleaning, Alicia Bots are developing a modular design which can accommodate different payloads for a variety of cleaning and inspection tasks. Cargill are keen to explore the hold cleaning potential in addition to the continuing use of RoverClean.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have participated in these pilots; and are pleased with the outcomes.  The Safetytech Accelerator Waypoint program provides a platform from which the process of finding and piloting promising new tech is much simpler for us as a user; the effort and timescales were significantly reduced compared to doing it alone,” Chris Hughes, Decarbonisation Specialist at Cargill, said.