Project Kick-off: RobotX – Pushing the boundaries of Research and development, as partners meet to debut this innovative project …

Oil and gas exploration continue to push production facilities into deeper water creating many new challenges for operators to provide adequate integrity assurance of their assets.

A flexible riser consists of a number of layers of steel and polymer that have a complex structure and some layers are shielded by others, making non-destructive testing (NDT) particularly difficult. Further challenging condition arise from corrosive environments, higher pressures and temperatures.

Inspection techniques currently available in the market consist of only irregular diver or Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) inspections and are able to inspect only the near side layers for wire disruptions, with the far side layers remaining uninspected.

The RobotX project proposes to investigate the feasibility of a mobile robotic digital x-ray scanning system that will address the needs and challenges of inspecting flexible risers in deep water. The robot and digital radiography equipment would have to withstand harsh environmental conditions, i.e., high pressure (≈100bar). 

Project objectives:

The RobotX system will perform a see-through quick visual hi-resolution scan as it crawls along the riser and processes the data using innovative image processing methods in order to detects and categorises defects using machine learning methods.

Where defects are picked up, the Robot X robotic system will rotate around the riser and perform more thorough scanning procedures, permitting it to correctly identify defects, using measurements taken at several angles around the riser.

These innovations will allow not just to detect and locate the defects, but also classify them according to an existing historical database and automatically decide on bespoke scanning steps for assessing the severity and needs for future interventions.

Project Benefits:

This autonomous and adaptive scanning methodology will allow cost-effective, fast and comprehensive robotic inspections of flexible risers especially at higher depths (>1000m) where the only technology is based on extremely costly ROV deployed from surface ships.

The partners behind this innovative project:

1.      Innovative Technology & Science Ltd. (InnoTecUK), Project Coordinator

2.      Brunel University London, (BIC)

3.      London South Bank University (LSBIC)

4.      Computerised Information Technology (CIT)