Navy Deploys Inspection Robots for Nuclear Submarine Program

Under an extended partnership with Gecko Robotics, the Navy will automate the inspection process for its Columbia-class nuclear submarine program

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

November 17, 2023

2 Min Read
Gecko Robotics' hull-scaling robot in action
Gecko Robotics

Gecko Robotics has signed a new contract with the U.S. Navy, bringing its robotic inspection and data collection tech to the agency’s $132 billion Columbia-class nuclear submarine program. 

Under the partnership, Gecko will provide its robotic weld inspection and data collection capabilities to assess the durability of welded assets during the manufacturing process.

Gecko’s robots move along the surface of the submarines, monitoring the materials for potential cracks or weaknesses and digitizing its findings to create a holistic record for future repair cycles.

According to Gecko, the tech will help the Navy decrease inspection time and reduce costs during the manufacturing process, while also providing a baseline of data to “improve in-service maintenance cycles.”

“Digitizing weld inspection results will transform a key manufacturing process for the Columbia-class program, freeing up the skilled workforce for higher value tasks and eliminating the risk of unknown weld conditions,” Gecko said in a press release. “The goal of this project will be to validate the return on investment of Gecko’s weld inspection process throughout several tiers of the Columbia-class supply chain.”

“We are proud to grow our partnership with the U.S. Navy beyond helping get ships through the maintenance process faster, to providing advanced manufacturing capabilities for the Columbia-class program,” said Jake Loosararian, Gecko Robotics’ CEO. “Demand from customers for more data on the front-end of the manufacturing process to help implement better predictive maintenance is growing – and we’re looking forward to starting this work with the Columbia sub program.”

Related:U.S. Navy Expands Robotic Project in $5M Deal

The contract is being executed alongside BlueForge Alliance, a nonprofit integrator supporting the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base.

The Navy first deployed Gecko’s ship-scaling robot in March, with the mobile robots leveraged to detect structural damage to the Navy’s first amphibious assault ship, as well as an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The project was expanded in July, in a deal that included a $5 million contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries to increase the use of robots for maintenance cycles on Navy ships.

“We built Gecko Robotics to collect data that has never been accessible before and use it to solve real-world problems,” said Loosararian. “Helping the Navy increase the speed and efficiency of the maintenance process has a direct impact on U.S. and global security. We’re proud to support this vital mission with mature technology that has been tested and approved by leaders across the Navy.”

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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