The Marine Robotics Centre (MRC) of the VLIZ is a center of expertise in marine robotics and currently manages four large marine robots itself. This infrastructure can be used by all players active in marine research and innovation in Flanders. In 2023, the robotics park will expand with an additional unmanned surface vessel (USV) and several smaller autonomous underwater robots (AUV). As the focal point for marine sciences in Flanders, the VLIZ is the appropriate institution to manage these specialized marine robotics.

Marine Robots at the VLIZ

ROV Zonnebloem

Since 2012, the VLIZ has had ROV Sunflower, an unmanned underwater robot (ROV or Remotely Operated Vehicle) that is controlled from a ship via a cable. It is mainly used for inspection and exploration purposes all over the world. 

AUV Barabas

In 2019, the underwater robot Barabas was acquired. The Barabas is an AUV or Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, and operates autonomously. The torpedo-shaped device measures the water column, sea floor and subsurface. The AUV can propel itself just above the seafloor, on a predefined trajectory, along which it can take various measurements. The autonomy of this craft depends on the number of batteries used, but is typically around six to eight hours. 

USV Adhemar

The USV Adhemar is an unmanned surface vehicle (USV or Unmanned Service Vehicle) that uses wave energy to propel sight. Solar poles feed power to the measuring instruments. Since the power supply depends largely on renewable energy, a USV can take measurements of both the water and atmosphere for long periods of time (up to several months). The device was purchased by the VLIZ in 2019. 

Glider Yoko Tsuno

The glider, like the AUV a torpedo-shaped aircraft, excels in multi-week measurement campaigns in the open sea and ocean. The glider follows a series of waypoints while making up-and-down movements in the water column, from surface to bottom. Thus, a vertical plane in the water column is sampled. 

Technical workshop

Maintenance of the ROV Sunflower was already largely done by the VLIZ itself. With the arrival of the additional robotic devices, the technical workshop was expanded so that all devices can be optimally maintained and deployed. The new workshop is located in the OIS section of the Ostend Marine Station.

Marine research using robotics

In 2022, the MRC conducted climate-related research using marine robotics. Weather, oceanographic processes or CO2 uptake at local and global scales all experience effects due to climate change. 

Better knowledge of small-scale processes is required to frame and predict these large changes. Robotics play a crucial role in being able to collect comprehensive data sets to study these small-scale processes. In this way, marine robotics contributes to understanding (or solutions) to the major climate challenges of this century.

Do you have questions about the Marine Robotics Center or any of its robotics? Contact: