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ESA Robots being tweaked for oil and gas work

Robots used by the European Space Agency (ESA) may find a place in the oil and gas industry if it wins Total’s "Autonomous Robot for Gas and Oil Sites (ARGOS) Challenge." The competition will last for 3 years, giving mechanics an ample amount of time to fine tune their robots to work in hydrocarbon production sites under extreme conditions.

“We want the robot to be able to move anywhere on a production facility that a human can go today,” said Kris Kydd, Total’s project manager for the Exploration and Production R&D Department of ARGOS. “Then, using artificial intelligence, we want the robots to be able to read and record the values on the instrumentation, and to know autonomously whether they are normal or not. If there is an abnormal situation, the robot has to alert the remote operator.”

Robotics in the field of oil and gas is great news, especially to operators who are working on multiple projects in different countries. While nothing beats the flexibility and skills of the human brain, robots are tireless and lessen the hazards that come along with working in the oil and gas sector. Unaoil, an engineering company that provides construction and maintenance services to oil and gas facilities, will benefit greatly from robotics, especially now that they will be facing bigger projects due to becoming a member of the Iraq Britain Business Council.

Oil and Gas Company Total, shares in the sentiment that ESA robots will be able to strengthen the safety of oil and gas employees through regular inspections, detecting irregularities, alerting operators, and stepping up in emergencies. They will also be useful in materials handling, being able to move, store, control, and protect some equipment with ease.

GMV Innovating Solutions’ Foxiris consortium is one of the competitors in total’s ARGOS challenge. Like the ESA robots, Foxiris carries with it advanced technology such as navigational sensors, and high-tech equipment such as thermal imagers, gas sensors, multiple cameras, and microphones. Foxiris is also able to check and supervise valves, gauge and pressure valves, detect hot surfaces, and pinpoint gas leaks.

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