Home-made underwater construction robots ready for on-site work

15, Jul. 2020

(Photo courtesy of Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) )
(Photo courtesy of Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) )

SEOUL, AJU - Underwater construction robots developed with domestic technology will be put into their first commercial on-site operation to build a water supply pipeline off South Korea's southern island of Geoje. One will be dispatched to an oil pipeline construction site in Vietnam in August.

Two robots, URI-T and URI-R, will be used at an underwater construction site off Geoje in late July, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. The URI-T robot with excellent precision control and navigation functions will be used for the construction of an oil pipeline in Vietnam in August.

A research team at the state-run Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) has been involved in a state research project to develop underwater construction robots. The prototypes of URI-L and URI-T were unveiled in 2016, followed by the prototype of URI-R a year later. The institute has carried out field tests so that the robots can be commercially deployed at real-world marine construction sites, such as offshore plants and wind farms.

The URI-L robot can perform various light tasks such as environmental surveys, the construction of underwater structures and maintenance. The URI-T robot is capable of burying cables or installing heavy structures at up to a depth of 2,500 meters underwater.

The URI-R is a heavy-duty vehicle with caterpillar tracks that can bury pipelines, crack rocks and even up the ground with high accuracy on a solid surface at up to 500 m underwater. It is equipped with a multi-purpose arm and uses an operating system for underwater groundwork.