A cost-effective robotic solution for the cleaning of ships' hulls

A. Iborraa1 c1, J. A. Pastora1, D. Alonsoa1, B. Alvareza1, F. J. Ortiza1, P. J. Navarroa1, C. Fernándeza1 and J. Suardiaza1

a1 Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, División de Sistemas e Ingeniería Electrónica. Campus Muralla del Mar, s/n. Cartagena, E-30202, Spain


Hull cleaning before repainting is a key operation in the maintenance of ships. For more than a decade, a means to improve this operation has been sought through robotization and the use of different techniques such as grit blasting and ultra high pressure water jetting. Despite this, it continues to be standard practice in shipyards that this process is carried out manually. This paper presents a family of robots that aims to offer important improvements to the process as well as satisfying, to a great extent, all the operative requirements of efficiency, security, and respect for the environment that shipyards nowadays demand. It is described the family of devices with emphasis on the mechanical design. This set consists of two vertical robotic towers and a robot climber. In addition, it is shown the control architecture of the global system. Finally, operative results are presented together with a comparison between the performance achieved in shipyards through the use of these robots and those obtained with a manual process.

(Received April 23 2009)

(Online publication May 22 2009)


  • Service robots;
  • Ship repair industry;
  • Grit blasting


c1 Corresponding author. E-mail: