U of R robotics project could make big difference in oil industry
Regina – Robotic research out of the University of Regina is aiming to make the oil and gas industry safer.
Dr. Mehran Mehrandezh and intern Abhijit Chilukuri are building a robot that could survey underwater guywires or large ropes that support off-shore oil rigs.
“Doing the inspection by humans would be very difficult and dangerous,” said Dr. Mehrandezh. “But, if a robot can do that it would be a very big plus for the industry.”
The robot will travel up and down kilometres of rope or pipe by itself equipped with a camera and a pair of lasers.
“We know the distance between the two lasers, and that can be used as a scaling factor,” said Chilukuri. “The challenge mainly is making it go under water and inspecting the pipes accurately.”
The robot will ensure there’s no flaws in the rope by measuring its diameter hundreds of metres underwater.
Ultimately, it would replace human work and human error.
“If there’s a hole on anything and the laser is projected on the hole then you would see there’s some discontinuity in the image, from which you can realize there’s a defect there,” said Mehrandezh.
According to the company collaborating with the team and supplying current technology to the industry, Inuktun, there’s a need for the duo’s work.
“It’s pretty critical,” said Inuktun President and CEO Colin Dobell. “Besides dollar and cent factors, there’s environmental factors. Everybody knows about what happened in the Gulf of Mexico and the mess that created. Certainly nobody wants to see that happen again.”
A fully working version of the robot is expected to be used in the field within two years, and hopefully expanded to include a multitude of uses in the future.