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Cobots

The oil rig crew includes weatherproof robots

Working on oil rigs is hard and lonely. The oil giant and platform operator Total therefore relies increasingly on autonomous robots that can easily withstand the adverse conditions.

13 Apr. 2018
HMI-ID04-003ts_TAurob-Total-TUDArmstadt
Photo: Oil and Gas Technology Centre (Robot developed by Taurob and TU Darmstadt)

The Technische Universität Darmstadt is developing these robots on behalf of Total . The TU cooperates with the Austrian producer Taurob. They won a competition run by Total on this topic together last year. They are now making the first attempt to deploy autonomous robots on an active oil or gas rig. If successful, the researchers expect significant progress in terms of safety and productivity. The costs for operation and maintenance of the drilling rig would thereby be significantly reduced.

The non-sparking robot is allowed to work close to gas thanks to ATEX certification. It can measure temperatures and gas concentration as well as perform visual checks on a camera. It can maneuver through even the narrowest passages and steps. It avoids obstacles and human colleagues reliably. However, the robots cannot yet operate the platform autonomously at this point. It remains dependent on human help.

The greatest progress for workers is safety. Despite all precautions, daily work on offshore drilling platforms is very risky. In addition, the workers are cut off from families and friends. A robot would be an ideal substitute for these remote applications. In the future, the experience gained could be transferred to other industries where employees are exposed to a higher accident or environmental risk.