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NASA to Create Robotic Drilling Rig

Robotic Drilling Systems AS is a Norwegian based company that has just signed a deal with NASA which will help it in its dream of developing a fully automated drilling rig which could position itself using satellite coordinates, erect 14 story steel reinforcements on its own, drill a well then move onto the next site.

Kenneth Sondervik, the sales and marketing vice president at Robotic Drilling Systems said that the process may seem futuristic, but is actually very similar to automated systems used in car manufacturing, or the guidance systems in cruise missiles.

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is designed to collect and process data on its own, and then take appropriate action based upon preprogramed reasoning. Robotic Drilling Systems wants to study this idea as it tries to develop a rig that will think for itself.

Robots have generally met resistance in the oil industry where human ingenuity is valued strongly, however the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010 has brought many people around to the advantages of introducing automated systems to drilling platforms. Eleven men were killed in the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig and Statoil has predicted that automating many processes will half the number of workers needed, reducing the risk of accidents.

Robotic Drilling Systems is already designing a series of robots that can perform the basic tasks currently performed by deckhands. Its blue, 10-foot-tall robot deckhand has a jointed arm with 15 or so interchangeable hands. It is anchored in place and then lifts drill bits that weigh more than a ton and manoeuvres them into place.

They will also use the information they receive from NASA to design intelligent drill bits which will be able to instantly respond to changing conditions that occur as they drill for oil, such as extreme temperatures or high pressures.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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  • C. Steven Goodie on September 04 2012 said:
    I will always believe that we as human beings, "decision making" is a true asset. Now is the time to create a synthetic "intelligent" robot to build and maintain automated drilling systems, that can be monitored globally and repositioned to build drilling platforms in other global areas. An oil platform that can "assimilate and accommodate" continuing changes in the oil or gas drilling and maintenance scenario. One that organiically understands and that can direct task to that understanding.

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