CLIMBER: Capable,Lithe, and Innovative, Maintenance Bot for Efficient Remediation
Navy SBIR FY2014.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2014.1
Topic No.: N141-042
Topic Title: CLIMBER: Capable,Lithe, and Innovative, Maintenance Bot for Efficient Remediation
Proposal No.: N141-042-0517
Firm: Boston Engineering Corporation
300 Bear Hill Rd
Waltham, Massachusetts 02451
Contact: Michael Rufo
Phone: (781) 314-0723
Web Site:
Abstract: The US Navy has the problem of having to use human operators to inspect and maintain tanks due to the lack of systems that can perform all (or even most) of the tasks required with the dexterity, control, and ability to access tight areas. Boston Engineering proposes to leverage our extensive experience and existing technology in this area to provide a robust mobile base within a modular and versatile solution onto which rapid integration of the various and wide-ranging tools required is possible, time-saving, and easy to operate for expediting remediation tasks. Our solution minimizes the burden on the operator to enable rapid and minimal cost of user training and maximizes the use of existing high TRL technology and COTS components to provide a cost effective, risk reduced, and rapid development of a TRL 6 prototype (at end of PH II). It focuses on the main challenges (nimble and versatile implementation of maintenance tools and processes), and not on robot control, navigation, algorithms, or complex mobile-sensory concepts. We also provide a designed-in ability to advance the capability of the system over time including the ability to add additional autonomous behaviors and modular tool attachments.
Benefits: The anticipated benefits of the proposed approach are as follows:  Cost effective system that can operate in almost all tank environments  Minimal operator training required for rapid integration into fleets  A complete end-to-end solution for tank remediation that can perform the tasks quickly and effectively The market for our solution is very large. Intermodal Ship Brokers pegs the world merchant ship market in 2012 at 19,197 ships from small bulk material transport ships to very large container and tanker ships. Tank inspection, maintenance and cleaning activities on these ships will be similar to those of the Navy, but on a larger scale for the big ships, with both higher and lower cleaning cost per ship. The Navy Ships Corrosion Project 2011 cited the cost of $32M across the fleet for opening, cleaning and inspecting tanks. With the Navy fleet of 283 ships (per Wikipedia), this is an average of approximately $110 K per ship. Applying this figure as an average across merchant vessels, the worldwide private sector market is slightly over $2B when projected over the merchant fleet. Large and small ship service and equipment companies currently serve this market, and would be the commercial customer base for our inspection, maintenance and cleaning system. Based on successful results in the proposed program, the cost savings of using our system will put it prominently into this market. There are likely to be additional savings in the private sector as the system takes workers out of the often toxic and dangerous work areas, which will reduce liability costs as well as direct labor.