Inspection and monitoring of assets are repetitive and expensive tasks and have higher risk when facilities are located offshore. Robotics holds the promise of improving the efficiency and safety of such platforms by allowing inspection and continuous monitoring remotely for difficult-to-access facilities. Legged robots, such as quadrupedal robots, are promising machines to achieve this goal: they have high maneuverability both indoors and outdoors, they are designed for accessing and navigating facilities that are built for humans (e.g. stairs, step-over piping, narrow passageways) and can carry a variety of sensors targeted at inspection and monitoring tasks. In this paper we introduce our approach for autonomous inspection of oil & gas platforms using legged robots. Our approach is being developed as part of the ORCA Hub (Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets), a UK robotics research hub. We envision a highly autonomous robotic system that conducts inspections with minimal intervention by human operators. The robot can navigate through facilities, as shown in Figure 1, accomplishing crucial tasks such as 3D mapping, monitoring of thermal build-up using thermal cameras, pressure sensing and other sensor and also using color cameras to detect people and to carry out general visual inspection. We demonstrate and evaluate the system’s perception, locomotion and inspection capabilities on a training facility that realistically simulates an oil rig at the Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh, UK and an industrial area in the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult Facility, Blyth, UK. We show the result of both autonomous and real-time teleoperated missions, and analyze the accuracy and efficiency of the system.
Today the company announced that it’s ready to take ANYmal to the next level. ANYbotics is positioning its robot as a “end-to-end robotic inspection solution.” Specifically, the robot is designed to inspect places like energy and industrial plants, patrolling areas where it’s not ideal to have a human on-site, 24/7 — if at all.
Mounted atop the robot is a customizable payload, featuring a number of different sensors for inspection, including visual, acoustic and thermal readings. The on-board camera features remote pan and tilt options for a better picture of an area.
The ANYmal is capable of walking up stairs and squeezing into areas that might otherwise be inaccessible for more traditional wheeled robotics. It can perform inspections autonomously and return to its charging dock when the battery is low.
The robot is currently in pilot deployment and the company has opened it up to preorders. It expects to start delivering units to customers in the second half of the year. The company is also offering a kind of on-boarding to get clients up to speed.
“Acting as a single point-of-contact, ANYbotics’ experts closely work with the customer in evaluating the tasks to be automated and prepare the organization for the deployment of autonomous mobile inspection robots,” it writes in a release. “The team checks the feasibility and impact in simulations, on-site demonstrations, and long-term pilot deployments. Once the implementation roadmap is established, the team trains the customer in commissioning and supports in scaling the system throughout their facilities.”