DigitalisationScandinaviaShipownersSustainable Shipping

Million investment in robot start-up

Start-up SubBlue Robotics gets million investment for propeller cleaning robot from Danish investors


Subblue Robotics, an Odense, Denmark-based robotics manufacturing startup, announced getting into an investment agreement for raising capital.

The money was raised locally from angel investors from Denmark, namely from Thomas Visti and Ralf Astrup.

Subblue Robotics was founded in 2016 by Don Fischer and Co-founder and CTO Michael Blom Hermansen. SubBlue Robotics has built an automated drone which can be used to polish and clean ship propellers with its attatched robot arm. Thereby it can save fuel and reduce resources.

Due to the ocean environment, propellers degrade (corrosion, algae, mechanical damages etc.) with time, which means ships then need to use more fuel than they should.

Today, to save on the consumption of bunker oil, the ships’ propellers are manually cleaned once or twice a year by divers. Some ports forbid divers working at the ports, meaning that the ships need to anchor outside the ports and wait for a good weather.

Rather than sending divers to do dangerous and time-consuming cleaning of the ship propellers, the remote-controlled robot is a clever alternative.

The robot consists of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and has an underwater arm that can be as long as 3 meters. The company estimates a TAM for its propeller-cleaning system to be about 60,000 commercial ships.

The technology is inspired by similar products within hull maintenance, but the same robotics tech can’t be applied to propeller polish due to the complexity of a propeller, which is finer and requires more power when in use. The underwater drone’s robot arm incorporates and simulates actual polishing techniques that divers use.

SubBlue Robotics joined the Odense Robotics StartUp Hub at the Danish Technological Institute this past December. The reason for that was to gain new insights into robotics development and accelerate the development of the drone solution.

The maritime and shipping industry has understood the potential of the solution of this start-up. Everything from improved work environment, time reduction in port, and also a reduction in the use of climate-impacting bunker oil as a consequence of ships having cleaner propellers.

According to Don Fischer’s statement written in robotics247: “A shipping company using robot cleaning and polishing of propellers can save DKK 0.5 to 1-5 million [$74,000 to $220,000 U.S.] a year per ship in terms of bunker oil costs and eliminate eight to 12 hours from time spent in port,” Fischer claimed. “And this calculation is based on the lower price level of $450 per tonne for ship fuel from before the war in Ukraine. The price of bunker oil is currently $900 per tonne.”

Sources of the article are based on Odense Robotics and Robotics247. Learn more about SubBlue Robotics here.

For more news about robots in the maritime industry, click here.


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