Marine Robotics Centre | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Marine Robotics Centre

In 2018, VLIZ started with the development of a Marine Robotics Centre and got an investment budget of 3 million euros from the Flemish Government. The intension of this Marine Robotics Centre is to grant Flemish scientists and their (inter)national partners, as well as other Flemish actors in the marine robotics scene, access to the latest technologies in the marine research field. To accomplish this goal, VLIZ recently acquired two robotic devices (AUV Barabas and USV Adhemar) which are complementary to the already available remotely operated vehicle ROV Genesis.


1. ROV Genesis

VLIZ already possesses an unmanned underwater robot called “Genesis” which is controlled from a vessel by a cable connected to the robot. The ROV is mainly used for inspection and exploitation purposes and has already been deployed multiple times on the World’s oceans. More info about the ROV can be found at its webpage.

2. AUV Barabas

An AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) is a torpedo-shaped device which can perform measurements of the water column, the sea surface and the subsurface. The AUV can operate on a predefined track just above the seafloor and perform several measurements simultaneously. The autonomy of this device depends on the amount of battery modules that are combined, but lies typically around eight hours. More info about the AUV can be found on its webpage.

3. USV Adhemar

An USV (unmanned surface vehicle) uses wave motion for its propulsion, while solar panels feed the measuring devices. Since the power consumption mainly relies on renewable recourses, an USV can perform measurements for prolonged periods of time (up to months) of both water and atmosphere. Additional info about the USV can be found on its webpage.

Technical workspace

The maintenance of the ROV Genesis is already taking place at VLIZ itself. Given the acquisition of two additional robotic devices (USV and AUV), a technical workspace will be set up in order to make sure that all devices are operational as much as possible. In a first stage, a seawater supply will be built, delivering seawater directly to the Marine Station Ostend. This will allow the construction of a test basin, filled with seawater, allowing initial tests of the different robotic devices on land.

VLIZ as administrator

Given that VLIZ is the central contact for marine sciences in Flanders, it is the ideal institution to manage these specialized marine robotics. This infrastructure will be of benefit for all actors in Flanders active in innovation in the marine landscape. The combination of ROV, AUV, USV and a state-of-the-art research vessel (Simon Stevin) is particularly suited to face many of the future challenges.

Time line

February 2018     European tender for AUV and USV

May 2018            Closure of the tender

September 2018        Decision regarding AUV and USV

Early 2019     Acquisition of AUV and USV

End 2019            MRC fully operational


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