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Description of lab facility for offshore robotics

Published October 15, 2007

The purpose of the developed lab facility is to demonstrate and support research on offshore robotics for remote inspection and maintenance of process equipment. The robotic concept for the remotely operated oil & gas platform consists of a robotic manipulator arm attached to a gantry crane. A similar configuration was chosen for the robot in the lab.

The offshore robotics lab consists of the robotic system and a section of process equipment that enables various measurement situations to be realized (vibrations, temperature gradients, gas leakage, etc.). The robotic system has been supplied by KUKA.

The robot can perform a range of inspection operations and interventions on the process equipment such as opening/closing manual valves and measuring vibration, temperature, sound and gas. The permanently installed sensors on the robot are shown below.

SINTEF has developed several specialized sensor and tool systems for the robots in the lab (shown below). These are mounted on a tool changing system to make them automatically exchangeable. This way, the robot can automatically connect to the tool it needs in order to complete an operation.

The operator control software used to monitor and control the robotic system is based on TCP/IP. The operations performed by the robot may therefore be monitored and controlled from anywhere in the world. The operator interface developed by SINTEF visualizes process and sensor data, camera images and a live 3D model of the robot. The operator can either execute predefined inspections and contact operations or take full charge of the robot motion with several control input devices (such as a Phantom OMNI from Sensable and a SpaceExplorer from 3Dconnexion). SINTEF has also developed a collision avoidance system (named CRASH) in order to allow safe teleoperation of the robot without colliding with the process equipment. CRASH operates on 3D models in order to calculate the distance between the robot and its environment.

 Contact person at SINTEF Applied Cybernetics: Aksel Andreas Transeth