Shipshave ITCH is a semi-autonomous hull cleaning robot that is tethered to a winch on the foredeck of a vessel and submerged under water. There the robot harvests propulsion energy and cleans the hull in a defined pattern using soft brushes. A variety of cleaning heads can be mounted to remove either microfouling or macrofouling.
The Shipshave ITCH system is a plug and play system with a user-friendly interface and can be easily installed by the ship’s crew. Lightweight and compact, the system requires only 1 m2 of deck space.
The crew deploys the robot manually while the ship is sailing. An integrated video camera records the cleaning process and results. It also allows for hull inspection without divers and gives port authorities a full overview.
All wear parts are easy to replace, and the robot can be airfreighted to Shipshave for servicing.
Shipshave ITCH removes early-stage biofouling, which is easier to remove than old biofouling. Because the robot operates while the vessel is in transit, sailing schedules are not disrupted and ships do not have to sail to special ports for cleaning. Moreover, the fouling is disposed of in the ocean rather than along the coastline, which prevents invasive aquatic species from entering the port environment.
Removing biofouling reduces hull friction, which in turn reduces fuel consumption. The classification society DNV GL estimates that vessels can achieve fuel savings on average of 8 to 10 per cent in cold climates and more in warmer climates. The direct cost savings of fuel also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Currently, the world merchant fleet has over 63 000 medium and larger sized vessels. The number of vessels will continue to grow as maritime trade is forecast to increase by 3.4 per cent annually up to 2024.
Shipshave ITCH is designed for use with professional vessels. The solution will be made commercially available in the course of 2020.