A team of 3 SMEs, coordinated by a young woman entrepreneur, proposes a new concept for salvage operations of distressed ships at sea. The proposed concept, called CART (Cooperative Autonomous Robotic Towing system) is based on the development of robotised unmanned marine platforms able to (semi-)automatically execute the high risk operation of linking the emergency towing system of distressed ships to towing vessels. The CART device will be able to optimise the operations for safeguarding the environment, helping to prevent oil pollution at sea, and minimising the risk for human lives. The SME participants, thanks to their know-how in emergency towing devices and salvage operations, as well as in the implementation of automation plants, can formulate and validate new concepts of intervention and contribute to the development of critical sub-systems. Anyway, for bridging the gap between the formulation of an operational concept and its in-field validation with a prototype tool in a time compatible with time-to-market requirements, the SME participants need the transfer of know-how from experienced RTD performers operating in the area of robotics and unmanned marine vehicles, as well as the application of qualification procedures for new technologies. Thus, two European leading research and academic institutions in the field of marine robotics and one of the world's leading classification societies have been involved in the project as RTD developers. They will also perform extended training of SMEP personnel in order to provide them with the needed know-how to execute the follow-up activities of engineering and manufacturing of the CART system.
Technologies based on robotised unmanned marine vehicles combined with the coming into force of international safety rules, that will make mandatory for the global fleet the use of emergency towing devices, can play a game-changing role in the field of salvage intervention at sea opening significant business opportunities.