‘Spot’ the robotic dog makes debut on GoM, North Sea platforms

Feb. 1, 2021
Robot can be used to read gauges, listen to equipment, scan the horizon, and sniff for methane.

Cognite and Aker BP have deployed Spot, the Boston Dynamics quadruped robotic dog, on the Skarv FPSO, 210 km (130 mi) offshore in the Norwegian Sea.

Cognite’s main software product, Cognite Data Fusion (CDF), served as the data infrastructure for the offshore test which collected images, scans, and sensors from robotics systems and then shared the data across Aker BP via a dashboard to make it actionable. Tasks included: autonomous inspection, high-quality data capture, and automatic report generation.

These data insights provide onshore operators with telepresence on offshore installations allowing them complete real-time mission planning and help drive crucial activities.

The mobility of Spot offshore, and the communication between the robotic dog, CDF, and Aker BP was both verified and tested. Data from Spot was available and sorted in the software in milliseconds, and Spot was remote controlled from a Cognite home office onshore demonstrating how robots and digital twins can have synergies and enhance each other.

In addition, data from an operator round was collected to analyze if the sensor-stack on Spot was sufficient to comply with the proposed task.

Karl Johnny Hersvik, CEO of Aker BP, said: “We are eager to explore how robotics systems can make offshore operations safer, more efficient, and more sustainable. The Spot offshore visit at the Skarv FPSO is one small step towards Aker BP’s vision to digitalize all our operations from cradle to grave to increase productivity, enhance quality, and improve the safety of our employees.”

Dr. John Markus Lervik, CEO of Cognite, said: “This historic pairing of minds and machines working together to solve industry problems demonstrates that data-driven decisions can change industry now. This ability to guide Spot by remote control is a huge step forward for the industry and something we will continue to work closely with our partners on as we continue to innovate and provide data-driven solutions.”

CDF is a cloud-based industrial data operations and intelligence platform, and it is said to integrate seamlessly with existing IT and OT applications in the cloud, edge, and on-premise. CDF contextually enriches industrial data, providing an open, unified industrial data model that is easily accessible for humans and applications, enabling better analytical operations and data-driven decisions.

Meanwhile, BP has deployed Spot on its Mad Dog platform in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. BP purchased Spot to remove employees from potentially hazardous situations and physically demanding environments on offshore sites. The company has been using the robot for activities such as reading gauges, listening to equipment, scanning the horizon, sniffing for methane, and identifying and quantifying potential leaks in hard-to-reach locations or enclosed spaces.

Using Spot to tackle these general housekeeping items frees up this labor intensive and taxing work, allowing experienced specialists to spend their time on more complex and high-impact activities. The robot has been integrated into walking rounds to look and alert for leaks, in addition to performing online electrical inspections in areas that a human cannot safely enter. And by equipping Spot with sensors, the robot is used to go beyond human capabilities to capture IR, ultraviolet and hyperspectral data.

Before considering the robot for deployment to its offshore rigs, the BP team performed proof of concept trials where Spot was tested on gravel pads and ramps, narrow passages and confined spaces, as well as grated platforms and eventually tested in a live onshore environment.

In addition to improving worker safety, BP says it is also using Spot to improve operational efficiency, as well as to help the company reduce its carbon footprint. Using Spot to consistently gather data with sensor packages such as methane detectors and audio sensors, for example, allows BP to identify equipment abnormalities before a production facility trips occurs, ultimately reducing the amount of flaring. This includes pressure temperature readings; identifying position of values and ultimately identifying if it is open or closed; if there is corrosion, and how severe it is. The robot is also being used to gather larger data sets on equipment performance, including laser scanning, acoustic data, general visual, close visual and thermal. Additionally, Spot can reduce onsite personnel by being the eyes, ears and nose on the rig, ultimately minimizing transportation requirements.