An autonomous prototype robot (ARGOS) that can go “almost anywhere” may be ready to take on the more dangerous tasks in operational oil and gas installations offshore, particularly in difficult to reach areas.
The robot can perform inspections, read instruments and is adept at navigating narrow pathways (including stairs). Autonomous intelligence should increase efficiency, while remote maintenance will reduce risk to people.
Dave McKinnon, head of technology and innovation at Total E&P explains:
“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.”
ARGOS is not the name of the robot, but rather the trial that resulted in this amazing robot: Autonomous Robots for Gas and Oil Sites. The ARGOS trial was announced in 2017, with the specific goal of developing an autonomous robot capable of performing routine tasks in challenging environments for the oil and gas industry. Total E&P partnered with Germany’s Technische University, The Oil & Gas Technology Centre, and robot specialists taurob to develop the unique autonomous robot. Notably, taurob (yes lower case t) specialises in robots for dangerous applications.
taurob’s managing director Matthias Biegl said, “After winning the ARGOS Challenge we are excited to enter the industrialisation phase together with Total and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre. During the next 18 months, our ATEX certified and the autonomous robot will be further enhanced to be eventually deployed on an offshore platform in the North Sea.”
taurob, in particular, specialise in robots that handle difficult field maintenance, or search and rescue functions where there is a significant danger to humans: explosive atmospheres, dangerous terrain, law enforcement situations involved explosives, and other highly charged situations.