Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
    A Groundbreaking Solution: Robots Revolutionize Submarine Construction for the U.S. Navy

    Rear Adm. Scott Pappano faced a significant challenge – the U.S. Navy needed a faster and more efficient way to build submarines. With the ambitious goal of having the first Columbia-class submarine ready by 2027 as part of a $132 billion replacement plan, critics expressed concern over the feasibility of the timeline and scope. However, Gecko Robotics, a company specializing in ultrasonic robots that inspect industrial equipment for damage, presented a groundbreaking solution.

    Gecko’s robots had already proven their worth by inspecting Naval warships with years of service. Gecko CEO Jake Loosararian proposed that these robots could be just as valuable during the construction phase, saving manufacturing costs and generating valuable data for future maintenance cycles. Understanding the importance of ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, Loosararian stated, “This is a critical asset that’s going to be defending our nation.”

    Recognizing the potential, Gecko quickly secured a demonstration contract to put their system to the test. While the exact value of the contract remains undisclosed, it marked an important step in revolutionizing submarine construction. In addition to this partnership, Gecko’s involvement highlights Pittsburgh’s push to showcase its advanced manufacturing capabilities and leverage federal infrastructure investments. The company is part of a network of industry ambassadors organized by the Pittsburgh Technology Council, all focused on promoting the region’s defense manufacturing potential in Washington.

    The collaboration with Gecko Robotics is just one example of Pittsburgh’s growing list of defense-backed projects, a response to mounting concerns over potential conflicts with China. According to Loosararian, every ship in dry dock instead of patrolling the seas heightens global risks. As Pittsburgh asserts its manufacturing prowess, the alliance with Gecko and other similar initiatives seek to bolster national security and strengthen defense capabilities.

    While Gecko has previously concentrated on the private sector, their success in gathering data from various commercial assets, including ships and power plants, indicates the increasing promise of military applications. The company foresees rapid growth in the government sector and plans to announce exciting new contracts in the coming year.

    Gecko’s system will revolutionize submarine construction by introducing digital weld inspections, eliminating the risk of unknown weld conditions. This innovation will also free up skilled workers for higher-value tasks. Instead of working with finished submarines, Gecko will collaborate with multiple tiers of the Columbia-class supply chain, optimizing construction processes and ensuring long-term asset performance.

    Gecko’s advanced robotics and software combination will allow builders to reference a “digital twin,” providing valuable insights and predictive capabilities. By understanding potential issues from the beginning, this groundbreaking technology enables optimal asset management throughout the submarine’s lifespan.

    Overall, Gecko Robotics’ partnership with the U.S. Navy represents a major milestone in transforming the construction of submarines. With the ability to save costs, enhance data-driven decision-making, and streamline maintenance processes, these dexterous robots are set to redefine the future of naval defense.


    Q: What is Gecko Robotics?
    Gecko Robotics is a company specializing in ultrasonic robots that inspect industrial equipment for damage and gather valuable data. They have previously focused on the private sector and are now expanding their presence in the government sector, including their collaboration with the U.S. Navy.

    Q: How will Gecko’s robots benefit submarine construction?
    Gecko’s robots will conduct digital weld inspections, eliminating the risk of unknown weld conditions during the construction process. This technology ensures higher construction quality and frees up skilled workers for more valuable tasks.

    Q: What is a “digital twin”?
    A “digital twin” refers to the combination of advanced software and robotics used by Gecko Robotics. This innovative technology allows builders to reference a virtual replica of the physical submarine, providing valuable insights, predictive capabilities, and optimization opportunities.