Total Launches Autonomous Robot for Oil & Gas Sites

Total, committed to the awareness of robotics and to the industrial problems of oil and gas, Total launched the ARGOS Challenge. The challenge will foster the development of a new generation of autonomous or remote-controlled surface robots, able to move around on an onshore or offshore site in a potentially explosive environment and feed back information.


The European Robotics Forum took place in Vienna, Austria from the 11th to the 13th of March. This exhibition brought together robotics enthusiasts from all over Europe and was an opportunity to share knowledge and create new partnerships.
Taurob, one of the three members of the ARGONAUTS Team participating in the ARGOS Challenge, conducted a workshop at the ERF.  Discussions revolved around the deployment of civil robots and how their roles will extend to increasingly extreme environments in domains including remote inspection and search and rescue, and how the effective application of these robots demands for new methods in supervised autonomy and perception.  Various speakers presented such methods and highlighted new approaches, as well as predicting future developments.
Lukas Silberbauer from Taurob, spoke about operator interface and how important it is to make it simple, intuitive and well designed in order for robotic solutions to be accepted and used by operators.  Kris Kydd, ARGOS Challenge Project Manager at Total E&P R&D added an end-users perspective from the oil and gas industry with special reference to the ARGOS Challenge.
Taurob is very experienced in providing versatile, rugged, easy-to-use, easy-to-integrate robots for outdoor projects within the robotic research & education community at a competitive price.
Daniel Plathey, Total E&P, Vice President R&D
Exploration and production in extreme conditions – severe cold in the Arctic, isolated offshore and onshore sites, acid gases, arid climates, etc. – are fundamental issues for the oil & gas industry. In the future, surface robotics, seldom used as yet in our activities, should enable us to rise to these new challenges and at the same time reduce our personnel’s exposure to risk.
Hence the idea of this first robotics challenge named ARGOS (Autonomous Robot for Gas & Oil Sites) and launched in partnership with the French National Research Agency (ANR). In fielding this original initiative, Total seeks to attract the attention of actors across the robotics world to the difficulties encountered by the oil & gas industry. The aim is to fuel interest in pooling competencies to produce the ‘robots of tomorrow’ that will meet the needs of our sites.
So what’s the roadmap? The teams chosen by Total and the ANR will have two and half years to think up a robot that has the capabilities we seek, of accomplishing repetitive tasks and of responding in an emergency. The goal is to design automated systems for safely maintaining and inspecting our installations.

The purpose of a surface robot on the gas & oil sites

• To reduce personnel’s exposure to potentially high-risk situations
• To operate in places inaccessible to personnel
• To provide support to operators in their maintenance and inspection tasks
The robots will be tested in Lacq (in southwest France), on a site representative of Total’s operating environment. The test plant (UMAD) is a gas dehydration unit, currently used for training emergency response teams.

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