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ANYbotics unveils new four-legged robot for oil rig inspection

ANYbotics, a Swiss robotics company, has introduced ANYmal X, describing it as “the world’s first Ex-proof legged robot”.

ANYmal X now makes it possible for the oil and gas and chemical industries to automate routine inspections, thereby increasing safety and operational effectiveness, says the company.

ANYmal X extends the leading mobility, autonomy, and inspection intelligence of ANYbotics’ robotic inspection solution. It is specifically designed and certified for safe usage in hazardous and potentially explosive environments – a game changer for the industry.

Oil and gas and Chemical operations are complex, and safety is paramount. Plant operators are required to pay special attention to the infrastructure where flammable and potentially explosive matters are processed.

Ensuring availability and safety in these operationally intricate facilities requires frequent inspections and detailed monitoring. Often, these inspections must be performed in or close to potentially hazardous environments, and therefore all on-site equipment must be Ex-certified as safe for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.

This means that any equipment used in these areas must be guaranteed not to cause an explosion, even in the presence of high levels of combustible substances. ANYmal X, the long-awaited Ex-certified, legged robotic inspection solution, is the game changer.

Operators in the oil and gas and chemical sectors can now include safe, autonomous, and highly mobile robots in their inspection and workforce planning.

Peter Welter, automation manager, BASF, says: “For the first time, ANYmal X closes an important technical gap, conducting automated inspections in very complex environments, with stairs and tight passages, and this in combination with Ex-zones, that’s a novelty!”

For the oil and gas and chemical sectors, robot inspection solutions reduce HSE risks and OPEX, including the high cost of moving inspection specialists offshore.

With autonomous robotic inspections, plant operators benefit from the reduction in manual work, less exposure of people to hazardous environments, no facility inspection shutdowns, less unplanned downtime, improved workflows due to better data tagging, automatic reporting, and generating insights that enable swift operations adjustments.

The Ex-proof legged robot ANYmal X, performing repeated autonomous inspection missions at potentially hazardous Oil & Gas and Chemical facilities. Industry-wide Impact towards Scaling Robotic Integrations ANYmal X was unveiled together with Petronas at the Offshore Technology Conference OTC Asia in Malaysia on March 22, 2022.

At the event, Petronas and ANYbotics are signing a commercial agreement to scale ANYmal X deployments to their upstream and downstream facilities and to promote the utilization of ANYmal X across the industry up until 2025.

Péter Fankhauser, CEO, ANYbotics, says: “Several partners are including ANYmal X in their inspection and workforce planning. We are thrilled about this industry-wide impact to improve the safety and efficiency of operations in Oil & Gas and Chemicals through our robotic solution.”

Customers intend to deploy 300+ units during the next few years. Given the extensive, early interest in ANYmal X, ANYbotics is planning for additional deployments this year.

ANYmal X builds on the advanced mobility of four legs to navigate complex structures consisting of industrial stairs, steps, and narrow passages.

Strategic Customers Lead the Way through the ANYmal X Early Adopters Program To ensure the seamless introduction of inspection robots to their operations, ANYbotics developed an exclusive early adopters program for strategic customers.

The program underpins the cross-functional embracing of robotics and prepares the partner organizations for 2023 scaling. Central to the program are numerous ANYmal X trial deployments at customer facilities.

The program includes workshops, training on operational safety, security, and standard operating procedures, as well as priority access to 2023 ANYmal X production deliveries.

Anders Røyrøy, principal researcher automation, Equinor, says: “Our offshore and onshore assets require Ex-certification in certain areas. Robots moving in these areas would therefore need to be certified. For this reason, we are taking part in the ANYmal X onboarding program.”

The global energy company Petronas has been spearheading the integration of autonomous, legged Ex-certified robots with the needs of the oil and gas industry by partnering with ANYbotics to co-develop ANYmal X since 2019.

Additionally, several global operators have already signed up for the ANYmal X onboarding program, including Equinor, the Norwegian-based energy company, present in 30 countries, Petrobras, the Brazilian-based, global oil and gas producer operating 67 platforms, Woodside, the leading Australian-based natural gas producer, and Shell, the London-based global group of energy and petrochemical companies.

Gustavo Levin, R&D manager, Petrobras, says: “As Petrobras offshore platforms are large and complex assets, we need detailed and up-to-date information to keep a proper maintenance plan. ANYmal X can be an autonomous plant surveyor, an on-demand inspector and an important tool to respond to safety incidents.”

Each Partner defines the mission tasks that ANYmal X will perform together with ANYbotics. The tasks include visual inspections and automated readouts of analog instruments such as gauges, liquid level, and lever positions, advanced thermography and vibration analysis of the equipment, and 3d scanning of the infrastructure.

In addition, ANYmal X is equipped with gas detection sensors to monitor the presence of methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and several other gasses. ANYmal X integrates as an end-to-end solution through its software API with asset management software and digital twin platforms such as Cognite Data Fusion (watch demo) and Woodside Fuse for automated reporting.

ANYmal X is approved according to the IECEx and ATEX certification standards for usage in Zone 1 explosive atmospheres. The challenge of packing all inspection robot capabilities and performance into an Ex-proof system was a serious undertaking and required ANYbotics to completely rethink how they develop robots.

Iskandar Al-Thani Mahmood, manager (robotics), Petronas, says: “Having ANYmal X Ex-certified up to Zone 1 will really enable us to bring the robot very close to our process area, and that’s where you create value.”

For safe usage in hazardous and potentially explosive environments, all systems need protection against any gas ignition. Robots work with motors, electronics, batteries, and in ANYmal X’s case, self-contained systems.

Temperature control therefore requires complex thermal management. No suitable components exist yet, so ANYbotics developed the necessary high-performance components for their advanced thermal management system.

In addition, the ANYmal X drivetrain needed multiple-redundancy protection. Such systems are not typically found in robots, so the team effectively re-engineered standard heavy machinery protocols to meet their weight, mobility, and Ex-requirements.

The result is that all optics and sensors are fully functional and simultaneously, totally protected, impact-resistant, and highly ruggedized. This means ANYmal X can inspect and navigate autonomously in Ex-conditions.

Furthermore, their latest next-generation controller makes operating ANYmal X easy and intuitive. The control software is tablet agnostic, and this means that operators can use their existing industrial Ex-rated tablets.

Mario Mauerer, CTO hardware, ANYbotics, says: “Integrating autonomous robots into Oil & Gas and Chemical workforces is now not only possible, but effortless.”

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