In 2015, and if everything goes well, oil drilling platforms located offshore Norway will be controlled by robots. Even today, these platforms don't use many people. But the idea behind the new platform concept is to install large modular process sections in unmanned areas to allow access by one or more robotic manipulators. In a few years, operators should be able to remain on land and to remotely control the oil drilling platforms. Obviously, this should reduce risks and costs. Tests have already started in a new laboratory in Trondheim. According to the plans, the researchers have 8 years in front of them to deliver the robotic tools able to control these very expensive platforms.
You can see above a photo of SINTEF scientist Pål Liljebäck sitting at the control panel of this new robotic tool. (Credit: Thor Nielsen, for SINTEF). You'll find a larger version of this photo by reading "Robotene overtar til havs" (in Norwegian).
The researcher pictured above, Pål Liljebäck already appeared on this blog in July 2006, for Anna Konda, the robotic firefighter. Liljebäck works for SINTEF (The Foundation for Industrial and Scientific Research in Norway). But this new robotic control system is being developed in collaboration with NTNU, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.
And you can see above some of the tools that a remote operator will be able to use by 2015 (Credit: SINTEF). You'll find more details in this presentation about Robotics for remotely operated oil & gas platforms (PDF format, 28 pages, 3.30 MB). A better version of the picture above can be found on page 17 of this document.
Here is how ScienceDaily describes the current version of this robotic system. "The robot has connected a special instrument for measuring vibration and temperature to the end of its arm, and just a few seconds later the arm is pointing over the high protective fence and through the glass screen. On the right of the control desk are two highly coloured beings have appeared on a screen: the human occupants of the control room! However, Liljebäck demonstrates how the robot measures vibration just a few minutes later, when he points the appropriate special instrument at a pipe in the laboratory that has just been made to vibrate. The measurement curve drawn on the computer screen will enable the shore-based operator to check that all is well."
For more information about this project, you can read several pages available from this Robotics for oil & gas platforms link at SINTEF.
And Happy Christmas to all of you!
Sources: ScienceDaily, December 21, 2007; and various websites
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