This project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the province of Noord Brabant under the OPZuid programme.

In this OPZuid project ExRobotics (prime applicant) and Rommtech (partner) are initiating the development of a fully autonomous operating inspection robot for hazardous and potentially explosive environments. This project is called VAREO (Volledig Autonoom opererende Robot voor inspectie in Explosiegevaarlijke Omgevingen). Within the project essential technology will be acquired from and co-developed with the Technical University Eindhoven. The OPZuid support will create a huge new opportunity for ExRobotics and Rommtech to valorize on their expertise, skills and knowledge. It also enables the development of an application that otherwise would have been very difficult to undertake, in respect to the costs of development. It will also create considerable exposure for all parties involved on a global scale.

Project goal is to develop, build and demonstrate a prototype of a fully autonomous operating inspection robot for hazardous and potentially explosive environments. The prototype will be able to perform inspections of remote and hazardous installations (i.e. oil tank farms, petrochemical installations, etc.) without any intervention from operators. In the project new technologies (autonomous navigation, context awareness, prolonged operation and low-energy/high-processing power) will be developed in an industrial application and demonstrated in new challenging (potentially explosive) environments.

There is a 25B$ market for cost savings in hazardous environments in which autonomous operation may play a substantial role. This business case is limited to autonomous inspections of unmanned installations and tank farms. We present a viable business case with a break even in year 2 after market introduction. Though start-up costs are significant, the OPZuid support will help propel valorization of two SME’s and it will have a significant financial impact:

Every 1€ investment from OPZuid and the European Regional Development Fund will lead to an 1,75€ of private investment in development and the valorization of knowledge in new products for involved SMEs. And an additional 10,22€ in commercial turnover.

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