ORCA Science Fair
Local Edinburgh MP, Joanna Cherry, and ORCA Hub Manager Lindsay Wilson with staff from Heriot-Watt, University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London.

A host of next-gen robots designed to operate in hazardous offshore environments will be showcased this week by a team from Heriot-Watt University.

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (RSSSE) returns to London today (1-7 July), displaying some of the UK’s most exciting research projects to around 13,000 members of the public.

Among the 22 exhibitors are researchers and academics from Heriot-Watt who are attending as part of the ORCA Hub. Launched in 2017, the ORCA Hub aims to develop an autonomous offshore industry through a consortium of five universities; Heriot-Watt University, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and the Universities of Oxford and Liverpool.

ORCA is led by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and brings together internationally leading experts with over 30 industry partners covering expertise in everything from subsea, ground and aerial robotics to asset management and certification.

Associate Professor Katrin Solveig Lohan, co-investigator at ORCA Hub, said: “The ultimate aim of the ORCA Hub team is to protect and safeguard lives.

“The offshore industry is a very dangerous place to work but we are developing options that can drastically reduce the level of risk. By utilising autonomous systems and vehicles, we can operate in hazardous conditions to carry out tasks such as inspection of tanks and vessels, repair of leaking pipelines, turning of valves and the certification of these assets once the tasks are completed.

“The Summer Science Exhibition is an opportunity for members of the public to get up close with this technology and get a glimpse of the future of an industry that is hugely significant to the UK economy.”   

Over the course of the week-long Royal Society exhibition, the ORCA team will be on hand to discuss their work and provide demonstrations of their interactive exhibit “Robots in the Danger Zone”. The exhibit shows, in miniature, the goals of ORCA and how robots can be used in dangerous offshore environments for guidance, navigation and control.

Visitors will have the opportunity to try out some the cutting-edge technology including the chance to drive a hand-sized Cozmo robot and get up close to the impressive 35kg ANYmal robot from the University of Oxford, which is designed for industrial inspections.

The team will be at the RSSSE from Monday 1 July until Sunday 7 July. 

To stay up to date with their progress you can follow them on twitter via @ORCA_Hub and #ORCASummerscience