Boston Dynamics Inc’s dog-like robot, dubbed Spot, is learning new tricks.
Working on an oil rig operated by BP PLC about 300km offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, Spot is programmed to read gauges, look for corrosion, map out the rig and sniff out methane on the Mad Dog platform.
Adam Ballard, a facilities technology manager at BP, said that tasks performed by Spot would make the work on the rig safer by reducing the number of staff.
It will also free up personnel to do other work, he added.
“Several hours a day, several operators will walk the facility; read gauges; listen for noise that doesn’t sound right; look out at the horizon for anomalies, boats that may not be caught on radar,” Ballard said.
“What we’re doing with Spot is really trying to replicate that observation piece,” Ballard said, adding that data provided by Spot would be reviewed at a central location.
The robot also has an integrated gas sensor that is programmed to shut Spot down if it detects a methane leak.
“We believe a lot of that up-front, remote work preparation can be done with a remotely controlled robot... being able to pan, tilt, zoom and really understand the entire area in real conditions, real time,” Ballard said.
Boston Dynamics does not release terms of its sales agreements, but the Spot robot model can be purchased for US$74,500.
BP hopes to expand Spot’s data gathering capability to augment areas where humans are limited.
“We’ve got multispectral imaging that basically you can see many bands across that spectrum,” Ballard said, adding that this would allow Spot to see “things that the human eye can’t see.”
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