Shipping industry is extremely competitive. European shipyards stay ahead of the international competition by specialization in building for instance cruise ships, offshore equipment and –ships and ship with high added value. These shipyards will have to lower their production costs. They can standardize components, processes and design and automate a great share of their production process. The Meyer Werft in Papenburg is an example of a shipyard with a leading position in the world market for cruise ships, because they have been able to do this.
Despite of all the innovations in the shipping industry there are still many processes that need to be carried out by hand, such as welding, welding inspection, cleaning, coating and inspection of the ballast watertanks. These tanks are used to stabilize a ship. They are constructed in a way that it is hard for people to access them. It is even very difficult to have robots work in them.
So far we have been unable to automate the maintenance of balastwatertanks. The purpose of RoboShip is to develop an intelligent multi-sensor robotsystem for inspection and maintenance of the waterballasttanks in ships such as the ones being built at the Meyer Werft.