About ORCA Hub

A project driven by the needs of industry

The ORCA Hub is an ambitious £36M programme aimed at addressing the offshore energy industry's vision for a completely autonomous offshore energy field.

The Hub was launched in October 2017, as part of the government’s £84m R&D funding on “robotics and AI for extreme environments” through the Industry Strategic Challenge Fund (ISCF). Led by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh), in collaboration with Imperial College London and the Universities of Oxford and Liverpool, ORCA Hub brings together internationally leading experts with over 30 industry partners to create a multi-disciplinary consortium with unique expertise in:

• Subsea, ground and aerial robotics
• Human-machine Interaction
• Innovative sensors for Non Destructive Evaluation and low-cost sensor networks
• Asset management and certification

The Hub's primary goal is to use robotic systems and Artificial Intelligence to revolutionise Asset Integrity Management for the offshore energy sector through the provision of game-changing, remote solutions which are readily integratable with existing and future assets and sensors, and that can operate and interact safely in autonomous or semi-autonomous modes in complex and cluttered environments.

A project driven by the needs of industry

The key research objective is to develop technologies that enable reliable, robust and certifiable robot assisted asset inspection, autonomous decision making and intervention capabilities for the offshore domain, with specific focus on challenges inherent to this extreme and unpredictable environment across the aerial, topside and marine domain.

The project will develop robotics solutions which enable accurate mapping of, navigation around and interaction with offshore assets that support the deployment of sensors networks for asset monitoring.

Human-machine systems will be able to co-operate with remotely located human operators through an intelligent interface that manages the cognitive load of users in these complex, high-risk situations.

Robots and sensors will be integrated into a broad asset integrity information and planning platform that supports self-certification of the assets and robots.

The Hub's research is focussed around four key work themes:

Sensing and Mapping

Planning, Control and Manipulation

Intelligent Human-Robot Interaction with Explainable Artificial Intelligence

Robot and Asset Self-Certification

Through the Hub's Industrial Leadership and Opportunities Panel (ILOP), the needs of industry will be continually monitored and will inform calls for joint industry projects to deliver commercial solutions.