Norwegian petroleum refining company Equinor is introducing autonomous ATEX-certified robots on their oil and gas installations.
ATEX is the European certification given to equipment tested and approved to be “intrinsically safe”.
Partner in the project is inspection robotics specialist Taurob of Austria. Its robot will be used to conduct routine inspection and maintenance tasks on offshore installations.
Taurob started developing robotics applied for human safety, particularly in emergency response situations, 11 years ago. Safety is also the main driver for the energy domain to step into robotics.
The “state-of-the-art” Taurob Inspector (main picture) is the result of an intensive two-year collaboration between Taurob, French energy giant Total and UK’s OGTC. Total was the first energy major to implement robotic inspection on their plant in the North Sea’s Shetland Islands.
Matthias Biegl, managing director and co-founder of Taurob, says: “Our goal is to build trust with operators and raise acceptance on site. Going through thorough certification procedures with the customers and their HSEQ and Electrical departments is as important as the development process itself.”
Equinor decided in 2019 to join Total, OGTC and Taurob in the ARGOS Joint Industry Project to develop a completely new robot, capable of performing autonomous manipulation operations.
Biegl says: “We expect the result to be a robust and reliable robot, with maintenance intervals of up to only once per year; ideal for Normally Unmanned Facilities (NUF) where human intervention is rare. As a so called ‘Work Class’ robot, it will physically interact with the installation.”
First tests will be performed this year.