Despite their size and potential investment capital, the oil and gas industry did not adopt robotics. However, this is changing.
Examples of robotic technology include remotely-operated aerial drones, automated underwater vehicles, robotic drills and much more. Robotic vehicles also inspect and make minor subsea repairs offshore.
The less manpower required offshore and in unknown conditions the better. Downtime on oil rigs or drilling sites is expensive so robots help solve this problem to boost productivity.
They are also removing redundant and routine tasks and automating them.
Besides precision, consistency, and repetition, safety is one of the top priorities for robotics in the oil and gas industry. Due to dangerous situations that oil and gas work can cause workers, automation will lead to much safer working conditions. This is especially important in offshore working conditions.
ExRobotics B.V. in Halsteren, the Netherlands, is a leading robotics expert. Its products replace the sight, hearing, smell, touch, and hands of users. The Dutch manufacturer relies on image processing with industrial cameras from IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH. ExRobotics has developed a series of robots especially for the inspection and monitoring of hazardous areas.
The main target market is unmanned oil and gas facilities in harsh climatic zones or with a particularly high-risk potential.
ExRobotics’s robots can be controlled from remote locations.
Whether on land or at sea, the control of several robots at different locations at the same time is just easily possible. And this from a distance of several hundred or even thousand kilometers.
A robot at the ExRobotics plant in the Netherlands was controlled from the other side of the world, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is a crucial point for the main players in the oil and gas industry. A broader reach is possible in the Middle East, North America, and the Far East.
Sarcos has also launched its next generation ground-based surveillance and inspection robot, the Guardian S, that is uniquely capable, cost-effective and man-portable.
The Guardian S has been designed for wide applicability in industries like oil & gas, mining, and petrochemical. It can also be used in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, power, aerospace, maritime, defense, and public safety.
Founded in 2016, Paris startup Helper Drone has taken in approximately $419,000 in funding so far to develop a piece of technology called HELPER. It stands for Human Environment and Life Protection Emergency Response
HELPER can identify spills of pollutants in water. It can also enhance the radio communications for boats close to oil platforms. And even provide images directly to any crisis room across the globe.
The drone’s main market so far is France, where some municipalities pay $700 per drone to provide HELPER rescue services.
It also caught the attention of global oil and gas company Total – making it the first ever drone authorized to fly on an oil rig.
The robot maker, ANYbotics, is partnering with TenneT, a Dutch-German transmission system operator, to evaluate robotic inspection and maintenance on offshore converter platforms.
With its autonomous navigation capabilities, ANYmal performs routine inspection tasks to monitor machine operations. It can also read out sensory equipment and detect thermal hotspots and oil or water leakages.
Gumps & Noctua
Chennai-based robotics company DeTect Technologies has two major products—Gumps and Noctua. Gumps is a sensor that detects leakages and corrosion in oil or gas pipelines. Noctua, an industrial drone that inspects large-volume assets like boilers and stacks. The Gumps sensor can also generate real-time reports.
These products use sensor technology, drone technology, image processing, and machine learning algorithms. They focus on improving operational efficiencies for industries. DeTect technologies aims to enhance monitoring and increase safety and accuracy.
Robotics is making its presence felt in many of the industries. Some of them are critical examples of how robotic assistance and automation is the only option for safe and cost-effective production of oil and gas in foreseeable future.