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Explosion-proof ANYmal canine robots inspecting Petronas’ offshore platform

Petronas, a global energy and solutions company from Malaysia, is testing the ANYmal four-legged dog-like robot from ANYbotics for autonomous robotic inspection on its oil and gas platforms. (See video below.)

They recently conducted a successful multi-week installation with the robot ANYmal C on one of their offshore facilities. For commercial use in 2022, ANYbotics and Petronas are co-developing a specialized version of ANYmal for potentially explosive environments.

Petronas relies on robotics to enable unmanned industrial inspections in its production operations. Its long-term partnership with ANYbotics focuses on bringing robotic routine inspection to offshore and onshore facilities targeting the commercial use of the ANYmal canine robot in potentially explosive environments by 2022.

Oil and gas facilities are classified as environments with a high risk for explosions and require on-site equipment to be certified.

To allow for the deployment on such plants, ANYbotics and Petronas are co-developing an Ex-certified version of ANYmal, designed according to the IECEx international standard and intended for deployment in Zone 1 areas.

The operators access the robots through the user interface for autonomous mission setup, live progress monitoring, and situational awareness

This Ex-certified robot is co-developed with Petronas, yet ANYbotics will offer it for the global market and has started onboarding early customers.

The complex operation of oil and gas facilities requires continuous monitoring and frequent inspections to enable high availability and safety.

Fauzy Omar Basheer Othman, head of Petronas’ Facilities of Future, says: “Our motivation is to deploy robotic solutions to reduce HSE risks and OPEX by minimizing offshore workforce deployment and logistics.”

The autonomous robot ANYmal provides automated routine inspections generating the insights to be able to adjust operations swiftly.

Othman adds: “We intend to use ANYmal to improve our workflows with better data tagging and automatic reporting.”

Petronas field-tested ANYmal C first on its onshore training platforms to evaluate the inspection capabilities. The inspection tasks include general visual inspection, digital readouts of analog and digital gauges, thermography, and acoustic analysis of rotating equipment.

After the successful onshore functional tests, Petronas’ robotics team performed a multi-week deployment on Petronas’ offshore platform Dulang B.

Iskandar Mahmood, manager for robotics at Petronas, says: “The offshore tests validated ANYmal’s performance under adverse conditions including slippery terrain, strong winds, and operations in day and night.

“Offshore platforms have large open spaces towards the ocean that are challenging for autonomous navigation. However, the LIDAR-based localization of ANYmal has proven robust even in these cases, and we were able to successfully test all functionalities, including autonomous charging on a docking station.”

Oil and gas sites are demanding environments that include steep industrial stairs and are exposed to extreme weather conditions. Built on the mobility of four legs, the ANYmal robot has proven its capability to navigate these challenging terrains safely.

Mahmood says: “Our plants are built for humans and often provide only little space for general passages. We have been testing ANYmal in various challenging situations and are impressed by its versatile mobility that doesn’t require us to make any adaptations to our facility.”

ANYmal’s IP67 water and dust ingress protection also provides the required long-term reliability.

Mahmood adds: “Minimizing the maintenance need of the equipment is important to reduce overhead. The industrial-grade design of ANYmal is key in these harsh environments exposed to salty air.”

Main picture: ANYmal carries high-end sensors to perform automatic routine inspections such as frequency analysis of rotating equipment.

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