A major Japanese industrial corporation has signed an agreement that will see the world’s first test of an autonomous underwater vehicle, undertaken in Scotland.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) will carry out a verification test of a prototype AUV equipped with a robot arm for subsea pipeline inspection.
The test, scheduled for October at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, will be the first of its kind in the world, according to Kawasaki.
KHI has been developing leading-edge component technologies for AUVs with a focus on the growing demand for pipeline maintenance in offshore oil and gas fields.
In Tokyo, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop witnessed the signing of the agreement by Steve Ham, commercial director at The Underwater Centre, and Kawasaki leaders.
Ms Hyslop said: “I am delighted that Kawasaki Heavy Industries, one of Japan’s major companies, has decided to develop this innovative technology in Scotland. It is fantastic news for The Underwater Centre in Fort William. Scottish Development International has worked hard behind the scenes to help secure this hugely significant agreement.
“Kawasaki also has excellent links with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics at Heriot-Watt University, which is developing the control software and multi sensor algorithms for the AUV system to enable it to track pipes underwater.
“The Scottish Government’s Subsea Action Plan, launched in January 2017, reflects our ambitions to support this important sector, not only in international oil and gas markets, but also to diversify into other sectors including renewables and deep-sea mining.”