Robotics/unmanned systems

National Robotics Center for Offshore Renewable Energy Opens in UK

The center will allow developers and researchers to test digital and robotic products and services for offshore renewable energy.

Source: ORE Catapult

The Digital, Autonomous, and Robotics Engineering (DARE) Centre at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s testing facility in Blyth, UK, has been opened by the UK’s minister for energy security and net zero, Graham Stuart.

The 3-million-pound state-of-the-art DARE Centre is the first of its kind in the UK. It will provide the opportunity for developers, researchers, and the wider industry to test, demonstrate, and commercialize innovative digital and robotic products and services for the offshore renewable energy market.

As offshore wind in the UK gets ready to triple capacity over the next decade, the adoption of robotics and autonomous systems is vital to achieving this rapid expansion and reaching net zero. These technologies play an increasingly important role in the offshore renewable energy sector.

“I’m delighted to open the UK’s national robotics center for offshore wind,” Stuart said. “Drones, robots, and underwater vehicles can reinforce the UK’s position as the world leader in offshore wind, make us even more competitive, and keep turbines turning in even the most hazardous of conditions.”

Technology tested at the DARE Centre will support the expansion of the offshore wind market and turbocharge the success of services and digital infrastructure surrounding the industry.

“The robotics center will increase the safety and productivity of our highly skilled offshore wind technicians, lower costs, and contribute both to lower consumer bills and the nation’s energy security,” Stuart said.

The DARE Centre includes a robotics assembly bay, an airborne robotics test zone, three dry docks with 20 000 m3 capacity, and test control rooms linked to the docks via a live environment monitoring system. The center is the latest part of ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, which offers a wide range of test and validation facilities, including market-leading wind turbine testing and an offshore demonstration zone.

“The DARE Centre is a fantastic facility that will help the UK stay at the forefront of innovation in robotics, AI, and digital solutions to support the growth of offshore renewables,” said Andrew Jamieson, ORE Catapult chief executive. “Innovation we can unlock here will allow those at the cutting edge of offshore wind development to work faster and safer, optimize specialist skills, improve reliability, and reduce the carbon footprint of the next generation of offshore wind farms.”

The DARE Centre has been funded through the UK government’s Getting Building Fund, managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Innovate UK.

“The infrastructure that exists around offshore wind, and the skills and expertise in our region, has already helped attract significant investment,” said Helen Golightly, chief executive of the North East LEP. “The offshore wind and green energy sectors in our region are internationally renowned, so it’s very fitting that the UK’s first center for advancements in digital, autonomous, and robotics engineering in renewable energy has opened here in the North East.”