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CADSM*2001 Proceedings


Control and Driving of a Robot for Underwater Ship Hull Operation

Grzegorz Roznowski, Zdzislaw Kowalczuk, Pawel Raczynski
Abs/rnc/ - The paper describes a robot system for underwater


Fig. 1 shows the structural scheme of the moving cleaning tool of the robot. The numbers indicate the following blocks: bristle bnlshes head (I), driving gear of arms (21, drive wheel

cleaning and maintenance of ship hulls, drilling platforms or floating docks. It works under water and it is gripped to the steel surface of a hull using the power of magnetic attraction. Its control and hydraulic drives systems are presented in this paper.
Keywords - Control and Driving, Robot System, Undenvater


(3), driving gear ( 4 ) ,electrohydraulic rotary joint (6) and ballast tanks (7 & 8).


One of the main for dry docking is to

The tool shown at Fig.2 consists of two wheels connected with a driving axle, which is propelled by a hydraulic engine. The wheels are controlled by two electromagnetic clutches and they are gripped to the cleaned iron flat surface on the principle Of magneticpower attraction The two rotating brushes (cleaning heads) driving by hydraulic engines are mounted on two swinging arms which are propelled by hydraulic servomotor. The brushes scratch

marine growth accumulated on sides and a flat bottom of a ship. Such growth brings about great resistance to the passage of the hull thorough the water, reducing the speed of the vessel and imposing requirements as to extra power of main engines in order to maintain a reasonable schedule, which in turn results in consequent increase in fuel consumption. There are underwater cleaning systems controlled either by divers or electronic equipment. The second one we can name as underwater robots. When a submarine body is unless partially made of steel and these parts .need sometimes to be cleaned, for example as a flat bottom and hull of a ship, a drilling platform or floating dock, we offer a new design of underwater robot for brushing maintenance.


Grzegorz Roznowski - Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Technical . University of Gdansk, Narutowicza 11/22, 809-52 Gdansk, POLAND, Email: Zdzislaw Kowalczuk - Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunication & Computer Science, Technical University of Gdansk, Narutowicza out the marine growth. The bristles lie flat and smooth on the cleaned surface making a shaving effect in such a way as to omit injuring of the paint coat of the base. The system may also be used in underwater inspection providing that advanced high Fig.] Structural scheme of the moving cleaning tool.

I 1/22,80 952 Gdansk, POLAND, E-mail:

Pawel Raczynski

- Faculty

of Electronics, Telecommuni- cation &

, 11/22,80 952 Gdansk, POLAND,


Computer Science, Technical University of Gdansk, Narutowicza

- sensitive television equipment any appropriate, for the

purpose, photo camera, is supplied. The working movement of the arms of the cleaning heads is synchronised with the rate of

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CADSM*2001 Proceedings
(data and power-supplying) base connecting the working tool with a

the robots tool movement. Clutching and breaking obtain veering of the tool the left or right wheel respectively. There is also an electromagnetic distributor electrically controlled, the purpose of which is to control the mechanical moment of the hydraulic engine and switch on and off the cleaning heads.

host computer (3) placed on a n assistant vessel (2). A hydroacustic subsystem is applied to localise a current position of the tool in relation to the cleaned surface. Markers (6) of the localisation .subsystem are hanging down on both sides of the ship. The manner in which the robot system is to be exploited is as follows: At the beginning the robot tool is put into the water using the small crane which is placed on the assistant boat together with the electro-hydraulic generator. The two ballast tanks of the tool are designed in order to make it unsinkable. When the cleaning brushes start to work, at the moment the tool begins

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to move towards the cleaned surface providing the tool has had appropriate orientation. When the tool is close to the surface being cleaned, electromagnets are switched on as to

Fig 2 The drive wheel with magnetic clutch

It is assumed, that cleaning is to be carried out irrespective
of the weather conditions, place of mooring Shelf area or an open sea) as well as of underwater visibility and drifts (up to 4 knots). It is a multi-task system for small and large vessels, drilling platforms and floating docks as well as it should work as a moving supply station for manual cleaning of small surfaces (a rudder for instance). As example of the general concept of the robot system for underwater brushing maintenance let us use the cleaning of the ships hull. It is shown in Fig.3.

cling the tool to the underwater object. An operator using the host computer console controls all the tools operations. A set of working movements of the cleaning tool over a chosen piece of a cleaned surface, which are up to the system operator, composes a working cycle. Taking into account the above considerations, the following issues have to be determined:

current tool position, local control of the cleaning tool, central computer aided robot control.


Robot control system consists of four main functional parts: local microcomputer under water robot controller, local microcomputer navigation system controller, host computer and operator console, integrated power and communication system. The configuration of control system has been shown at Fig. 4. The working head controller has been placed in a waterproof

Fig.3. General concept of the system The robot tool equipped with heads and drive is moving on the underwater surface of the ship hull (1). The cleaning tool (5) of the system is supplied with all necessary sensors, actuators as well as a
local microprocessor controller. Electro-hydraulic turning joint and

displacement container. Its main tasks are: receiving commands from the host computer, command interpretation and execution, direct digital control of working head movements, based on onboard sensors (mechanical indicators, hull curvature sensors and cleaning quality sensors),

set of electrical and hydraulic leads (4) serve as a central system

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CADSM"200I Proceedings

control & navigatio

Fig.4 Robot controller architecture

monitoring system status and sending messages to the host The onboard microcomputer controls working head movements (start/stop, going forward, turning Iefi and right),

consecutive measurements of the distance between front and rare of the robot and four base points marked with hydroacustic transponders, calculation of the working head position and

orientation based on measured distances fi om base points, sending position co-ordinates and navigation system status to the host Architecture of the positioning system has been shown at Fig 5 Robot working area is bordered by four transponders Robot onboard navigation system consists of range finder cooperating with two transducers placed one at the front part of working head and the second at the rear Having measured distances from the front transducer to the base transponders and distances from rear transducer to thc transponders

cleaning movements (swinging motion of cleaning arms, rotational motion of cleaning brushes), hold down to the hull (turning on and off electromagnets placed in road wheels)

The onboard controller has been prepared for additional tasks, which might be, implemented in the future robot versions. It has got some spare digital and analogue inputs which allow to serve


sensors increasing



(ultrasonic sensors and i angc-finders), quality of cleaning process sensors


possible to calculate working head position and orientation even if some measurements failed
The host computer is installed

Extra outputs may be used for controlhng motion and

cleaning speed Navigation system has been composed as a set of' foui hydroacustic range finders It is placed in a waterproof displacement container of the woiking head of robot I t is controlled by a microcomputer system, which is connectcd to host via a serial interface and modem Its main task:, are reccivmg commands fioin host.

board of a service ship it

connected to working hcad controller? via modem and a An industri'il standard PC compatible

wateiproof wire

computer has bcen used a5 a host Its main tasks arc sendingheceiving niesrages froin working head contlollcl9, intei'ictivc cu-opeiation w i t h Operdtoi.

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presentation of the cleaning process status and effects at the computer console, supervising working head movements and cleaning process.

between host and onboard controllers. The specialised modem has developed to separate voltage supply from data stream. REFERENCES

A map of robot working area is presented to operator on

the screen of thehost computer. Two different colours have been usedto represent cleaned and not cleaned areas. Working.head movements arc also visualised on the screen Three robot control algorithms has been implemented: manual, teach-in, fully automatic (working head scans the area until it :: isnt cleaned in accordance to working head onboard sensor).
Working head power supply and data transmission system

[ I ] Bublick T.J., Robot Applications, Wiley andSons, 1985. [2] Faulkner D., Int. Shipbuilding Progress, No367, 1985. [3] Kitowski Z., Moreck.i A., Ostachowicz W., Underwater robotics in Poland, Proceedings of the 24-th International Symposium on Industrial Robots, Tokyo, Japan, 1993, pp. 515 - 522. [4] Morecki A., Knapczyk J . , Fundamental Robotics, Wydawnictwo Nairkowo Trchniczne, Warszawa, 1993.

It has been described a model of the underwater robot for cleaning maintenance on the ships hull, drilling platform or floating dock. It is shown on the photography in a simplified representation. Experiments in a wet dock have been carried out. Conclusions resulting from them will hopefully aHow us to eliminate all drawbacks as well as the elements of the systcm. which were indispensable in the research model of the underwater model.

has been integrated. Only one pair of wire is used to supply electric components of workin,? head and to transfer messages

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