An interview with our Project Technical Coordinator Enrico Carrara

What was your work focused on in Robins project?
I am the Technical Coordinator of the project. During the first phases, my work has been mostly focused on defining the project’s objectives and methods of work, identifying the cutting-edge technologies that could respond at best to the challenges of robot-assisted ship inspection, considering the specific needs of all stakeholders, based on how ship inspection is actually carried out in the real world. During the development of the project, my work has been mostly about coordinating the developments carried out by all partners, putting together and harmonizing all technologies towards a common goal.

What are the main challenges you faced in this work and how did you overcome them?
Ship inspection has many specific aspects and require specific technical solutions to be developed. Moreover, testing such solutions on real ships in real-world inspection conditions is extremely difficult due to organizational and technical problems which represent the everyday playground for people involved in the shipping industry, but do not fit at all with the strict planning requirements of a research project. This is why we developed the so-called Testing Facility, where many of the real-world conditions could be accurately reproduced. The COVID-19 pandemic raised even more the difficulty level for testing. Regardless, in ROBINS many disrupting and innovative technologies have been developed and successfully tested. Now we are ready for a concrete proposal to the industry.

What did you enjoy the most about working in an international Project Consortium such as ROBINS?
o In the ROBINS Consortium we have been able to create a unique environment where different industrial cultures melted together and a common language has been created. This achievement is not obvious when we consider that ROBINS has partners from extremely different industry sectors (robotics, shipping, university) and different nations (CH, DK, ES, FR, GR, IT, RUS, UK). Creating such environment, assisting its growth and seeing it working boldly has been with no doubt what I enjoyed the most.

What is going to happen after the project’s end in June 2021?
As for any research project, also in ROBINS many todo’s remain open after the end of the project itself. We will try to find the best way to move further with our work, even if I am enthusiastic and fully satisfied with the results achieved so far. But as we know, the closer we approach the original final goal, the better we can see the next steps. Both from the technological and normative point of view, we can see important improvements still to be done. Now, after three-years work, we can say that we have a new basis to start from and go farther, in a new world with unexpected and challenging technical and social scenarios.