There’s a lot of talk at the moment about the rise of the robot and the fourth subsea revolution. The industry has always been a major driver in disruptive technologies, and recent investments in robotics have the power to transform the industry.
One of the most interesting must be ANYmal, the ‘world’s first autonomous offshore robot’, which is designed to operate in challenging terrain. As well as having multiple sensors to enable it to carry out inspections and operations efficiently, such as visual and thermal cameras, gas detection and microphones, it uses AI to learn more about the platform, and better work within it, say in an emergency when it’s tackling debris in a search and rescue situation. The advances promised by ANYmal means people can be protected from having to put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.
It’s already been trialled on a North Sea platform in September 2018. It carried out 16 inspection points and delivered a number of results from tasks like leak detection and reading sensory equipment.
Total is well down the line of working with robots, having deployed the ARGONAUT – a robot which carries out inspections and autonomous tasks in pairs, working shifts and docking itself as it begins to run low on power. The company aims to have a robotics solution on an industrial scale by 2022; its E&P Head of Technology Dave Mackinnon said: “We are on the cusp of delivering technology that will improve safety, reduce costs and even prolong the life of North Sea operations. Robots represent an exciting new paradigm for the oil and gas offshore industry and Total is proud to be part of it.” Related: What’s Behind The North Sea Spending Spree?
Taking it one step further is the Eelume, which actually lives underwater as the name would suggest. By designing it to cope in these conditions and removing the need to return to surface to dock, the creators have adopted a design practice approach to problem solving. This innovative robot has a unique snake-like body which means it can go where other robots cannot.
As the industry looks to increase productivity and efficiency amid volatility in crude prices, the deployment of robotics is likely to become far more common. A recent report by GlobalData identifies oil and gas companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Gazprom, Repsol, Equinor, Total, Saudi Aramco, Sinopec and ADNOC, as having considerable exposure to the robotics theme.
At the end of the summer, a conference on Underwater Robotics Is being held in Aberdeen to look closely at the impact of digitalisation and the rise of AI in the industry.
As well as considering the innovations robotics will bring, we’re interested to look at what new roles will be created for people to carry out. As ever – robots won’t take our jobs per se – we’ll find new ones which better match our human capabilities which robots can never perform.
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