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Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology

KIOST breaks ground on Underwater Construction Robotics R&D Center

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  • Date : 2015-09-01

The Republic of Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology announced held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Underwater Construction Robotics Demonstration Center at the Yeong-il Bay General Industry Complex III located in Pohang City, Gyeongsangbuk-do, on September 2, 2015.


The Underwater Construction Robotics Demonstration Center is part of a project initiated by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) in 2013 to develop underwater construction robots (UCRs) for ocean development, which the ministry will pursue until 2018 with a total budget of KRW 81.3 billion. The Center will house a water tank designed to test the performance of three types of UCRs that are to be developed at the Center as well as various research support facilities. As the managing agency, KIOST, through the operation of the Center, will secure the capability to conduct systematic research and development and act as the control center for the rapid domestic production of UCRs.


*The three types of UCRs under development are: ① an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) for light tasks, including repair and maintenance work such as underwater welding, ② a heavy-duty ROV for tasks such as laying undersea cables or conducting heavy offshore construction work, and ③ a continuous track-based robot for other heavy tasks, including laying pipelines on areas of relatively solid ground.


The Center will also be equipped with a large water tank, measuring 35 meters long, 20 meters wide, and 9.6 meters deep, and a circulating water channel, measuring 20 meters long, five meters wide, and 6.2 meters deep. In order to create an underwater environment, a variety of equipment will be installed, including a current generating device rated at a maximum velocity of three knots, a large-scale UCR, a 30-ton hoist for deployment and recovery, a bogie  system, and offshore construction equipment.


UCR technology is vital to the construction of offshore plants, which are rapidly increasing in number across the world, as well as of ocean energy facilities, CO2 capture and storage devices, and offshore structures, such as offshore wind farms. Therefore, advanced countries are already deploying various types of UCRs, but Republic of Korea is still forced to import or lease related technology and devices from abroad. Furthermore, offshore structures are gradually moving to deep sea environments, further increasing countries’ dependency on UCRs.


Through its development of UCR technology, Republic of Korea is expected to reach 90 percent of the level of development of advanced countries in terms of underwater construction equipment by 2021. Republic of Korea currently leases all related equipment from abroad, but producing 50 percent or more of such equipment domestically would reduce overseas lease expenses about KRW 200 billion over five years.


President Hong commented, “The Underwater Construction Robotics Demonstration Center will now undertake the final phase of its development of underwater construction robots. In the future, we expect that the Center will come to lead the global market as a hub of the production of such robots.”


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Last Update : 2020-03-07