If a boat runs aground at the mouth of a port, as has already happened in several anchorages in the Maresme, due to the accumulation of sand, and prevents movement, the rescue deployment has very high costs. Hence, some port facilities such as Marina Premià opt for prevention and to maintain periodic control of the sand banks that accumulate in the port environment, a procedure they carry out with radio-controlled electric marine robots.

The Seabots are small 40 cm electrical devices. Equipped with as many sensors as the occasion requires that allow monitoring the seabed and instantly offering combined information and a digitalized three-dimensional mapping of the explored area. The application is used in hydrography, quantification of blue carbon and control of the environment and the marine ecosystem, such as Posidonia plantations, marine plants that are essential for the balance of biodiversity in the Mediterranean.

In the case of Maresme, the dynamics of the coast have changed abruptly, with fewer storms, for which the ports are more protected. However, as the intensity of the western storms increases, incidents such as the accumulation of sand and sediment in the mouths also worsen. Likewise, port concessionaires, as a general rule, in the concession contract, have the obligation to dredge, not only the mouths but also to transfer sand from the beaches next to the breakwaters, since they act as artificial barriers that They interrupt the natural dynamics of the sediments. The robots offer concise mapping of sandbanks.

The Seabots, as detailed by the company’s executive director, Pau Guasch, are also used in research, such as the collaborations they maintain with the Maritime and Environmental Hydraulic Engineering Laboratory of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), which continues with an investigation into the effect of storms and climate change on the Catalan coast.

The Seabots send detailed information and, according to the data captured by the installed sensors, they instantly emit the digitized information with which the three-dimensional map of the seabed is formed. Thus, for example, “this week in the port of Tarragona they have quickly and effectively located the lost anchor of a large merchant ship”, which has subsequently been recovered by specialized cranes. “Without the robots, the detection costs would have been very high” since at least four divers would be required, as required by regulations.

Public institutions and environmental consulting firms have also been interested in the use of the marine robot to monitor the state of marine infrastructure. For example, to know the impact of storms on maritime collectors, several navigations are carried out to obtain a digital twin with images that allow modifications to be detected and act accordingly “anticipating setbacks.”

Other applications in which robots intervene effectively are in the detection of contaminants, miniplastics and the collection of samples to analyze water quality. As well as in the surveillance of aquaculture farms and navigable rivers or, more recently, in the Sau reservoir where human intervention, in certain circumstances, is not feasible.