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Exclusive: Nasa scientists set to revolutionise oil and gas business with robotics and automation technology

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Houston company says it is bringing advanced technology from Nasa to elevate oil and gas operations through robotics and automation

A Texas business grounded in aerospace experience and space technology is changing the face of oil and gas.

Houston Mechatronics, a company founded by former Nasa roboticists, is incorporating intelligent automation and robotics into the energy industry in ways that streamline operations, improve both costs and quality, and remove workers from hazardous environments.

The recent focus on oil and gas was a natural one, says Matthew Ondler, Houston Mechatronics’ co-founder and president. Although the company works with clients across a range of industries, energy is feeling a pinch. 

The Port of Houston, USCG photo, by James Dillard, via Wikipedia

And that pinch has a major effect on Houston’s economy.

Ondler says: “Houston is our company’s home, and oil and gas is huge here.

“The current downturn affects so many aspects of Houston life, and the energy industry is hungry for technology that can improve the bottom line.

“With Nasa here as well, our team is combining our experiences in aerospace with our way of looking at difficult problems, and bringing answers to the oil and gas sector in a way that we believe can truly help.”

Current projects include pipe inspection robots that allow companies to more accurately plan maintenance and verify hazardous conditions that might otherwise have gone undetected, and advanced robotic manufacturing technologies that increase quality, lower lifecycle costs and remove people from hazardous operations.

Also under development is a suite of subsea robotics concepts and prototypes that may fundamentally change how subsea oil and gas facilities are developed and maintained. These advanced robotic solutions will also enable drilling and production in even deeper waters.

Houston Mechatronics co-founder and chief technology officer Nic Radford says while the company looks forward to continuing current projects, it doesn’t end there – the team is always searching for new ways to automate and elevate clients’ value in their respective industries.

Radford says: “The incredible thing about what we do is, the sky’s the limit.

“If you can dream it, there’s a way to do it. That’s what our team does. We love putting technology to work in ways that show people exactly what’s possible with the right experience in these advanced systems, and with a little ingenuity.”