Home > Uncategorized > NASA Helps Hatch Robots for Drilling Oil Without Humans: Energy – Bloomberg

NASA Helps Hatch Robots for Drilling Oil Without Humans: Energy – Bloomberg

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Apache, the third-largest U.S. independent oil and natural- gas producer by market value, is writing software that will essentially allow the drill bit to think for itself, communicating directly with equipment at the surface that controls speed and direction.

Graham Brander, the company’s director of worldwide drilling, sees it working much like a plane on autopilot, flying on its own with a human on standby, ready to assume the controls if necessary.

“That’s what I view very much as the automation model for the oil and gas business,” he says.

Other breakthroughs are taking place onshore, where producers are racing to drill tens of thousands of wells in U.S. shale fields. On a recent morning in north Houston, Johnny Alverson, a senior foreman at rig builder Drilling Structures International Inc., fired up an 1,800-horsepower John Deere engine and picked up a remote control box as big as a car battery as he prepared to move a 167-foot-tall drilling rig without the aid of a crane.

With the push of a couple of buttons on the remote, the green light lit up next to “walk” and the rig slowly heaved itself up five inches off the ground on four large, flat feet. The $20 million monster can move at a rate of a foot a minute. Says Drilling Structures Executive Vice President P.J. Rivera: “You start to feel good about yourself when you can pick up a million pounds with the flick of a thumb.”

via NASA Helps Hatch Robots for Drilling Oil Without Humans: Energy – Bloomberg.

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