Robots could soon be working autonomously alongside humans on a North Sea platform, performing inspection tasks.
A world-first project led by the Aberdeen-based Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) aims to develop and trial a mobile robot for autonomous operational inspection of facilities on Total’s onshore Shetland Gas Plant and offshore Alwyn platform.
The OGTC and Total E&P are working on the project with Austrian robot maker Taurob and Technische Universitaet Darmstadt in Germany, who collaborated to win Total’s ARGOS (Autonomous Robots for Gas and Oil Sites) challenge in 2017. The challenge involved developing an autonomous robot that could perform routine tasks and respond to challenges in a simulated oil and gas operational environment.
According to the OGTC, the robot developed by Taurob and TU Darmstadt is ATEX-certified (certified to work in gas environments without risk of ignition), can perform visual inspections, read dials, level gauges and valve positions, navigate through narrow pathways and up and down stairs, measure temperature and gas concentration, and detect and navigate around obstacles and humans.
Now, the 18-month project will develop a further two versions of the ARGOS robot that are more robust and reliable, have improved functionality and can be operated by workers offshore without the need for onsite robotics experts.
Rebecca Allison, Asset Integrity Solution Centre Manager at the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said: “Robotics has the potential to transform the offshore oil and gas industry. We have countless repetitive, dirty and potentially dangerous tasks carried out every day. Integrating robots for these tasks will help upskill our workforce and improve the quality of the jobs. Projects like this will help inspire and attract the next generation oil and gas workforce.”