Scots firm creates robot lifeboat to provide emergency rescue for offshore wind farm workers and seafarers
A unique new robotic rescue vessel could mean the difference between life and death for workers on offshore wind farms in Scotland and across the globe.
Offshore energy sites present a hazardous environment for personnel and boat crews, where there is always a risk of ‘man overboard’ incidents.
But when it comes to saving lives, every second counts.
The unmanned Survivor craft will be installed on turbine platforms or substations to provide emergency help for crew who end up in the water after an accident at sea, providing an immediate response in far-flung locations that would take land-based emergency services a long time to reach.
Operated remotely, it can be launched from a height of 25m and sent out in rough seas to pick up a casualty without risking other workers’ safety.
The brainchild of Edinburgh-based start-up Zelim, the Survivor vessel has been designed in partnership with pioneering naval architect Chartwell Marine.
It comes fitted with a special conveyor belt to help retrieve a person from the water, easy-to-open doors and an environmentally conditioned interior to protect against the elements.
The cabin is kitted out with a communications system linked to international operators who can provide medical advice and a first aid kit to help the casualty stay as safe as possible until further assistance arrives.
It also boasts a special helicopter pick-up zone to assist onward rescue.
As well as a lifesaver for offshore wind farm workers, each Survivor system installed will be integrated with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to provide 24-hour rescue services for any other seafarers who may get into difficulties nearby.
Zelim founder Sam Mayall said: “As offshore wind continues to scale up to meet the growing global demand for clean energy, ensuring the safety of seafarers and technicians is critical.
“That’s why we are working with Chartwell Marine and other industry partners to develop a cohesive offshore survival system, beyond the vessel itself, engaging with operators and regulators to make sure it is fit to save lives in some of the most challenging conditions imaginable.”
Andy Page, managing director of Chartwell Marine, added: “Designing the Survivor gave us a great opportunity to apply our offshore wind expertise to new challenges, such as free-fall water entry and casualty recovery.
“For example, the two water jets will activate prior to contact with the water to stop the vessel drifting backwards into the turbine.
“Zelim has shown strong leadership in making offshore wind a safer industry, and we are excited to see where the partnership goes next.”
The creators say the innovation represents a new “permanently available link in the offshore rescue chain, created in Scotland, that can help save workers and passing mariners in distress”.