Petrobras and PUC-Rio scientists develop a robot for underwater inspections

Free translation and writing by : Dr. Franyi Sarmiento, Ph.D., Inspenet, March 23, 2022.

Petrobras began the licensing process for the AURI robot, Riser Autonomous Underwater Inspection, patented technology developed by Petrobras in partnership with PUC-Rio.

Equipped with high-resolution cameras and remotely operated, the AURI is capable of identifying, with high precision, the maintenance needs in the flexible pipelines that transport oil from subsea facilities to production platforms. As a result, it increases the safety and efficiency of operations, in addition to reducing operating costs.

The tests were carried out on platform P-43, in the Dársena de Campos. The successful operation proved the effectiveness of the new robot, allowing the deployment and start of the technology licensing process, which should be completed by the end of the year.

“Petrobras created a broad program to increase safety in diving operations, called the Diverless Synergy Program. This program introduced new systems, methodologies and technologies to increase the safety of divers. The results we obtained are an example of how a culture of innovation and improvement generates value for the business, demonstrating that it is possible to produce more and more safely”, reports the Director of Production Development, João Henrique Rittershaussen.

To be used, the robot is installed outside the flexible underwater conduit with the support of an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) and, from there, it performs part of the inspection tasks and all the cleaning, being operated, from the boat, by a specialized professional. Another advantage is the robot’s ability to carry tools and rotate 360 degrees around the chute, even if it is very close to the platform hull, in a place that is difficult to access.

Currently, the tools used to clean the pipelines are attached to the ROVs throughout the operation, and after that, the ROV must still be used to perform the visual inspection. In the case of the AURI, the ROV is used only for its installation and uninstallation in the pipeline, leaving it free for other activities the rest of the time. The AURI also records videos of the region inspected for analysis and archiving of the images, which allows the evaluation of the pipeline by the teams on the ground.

“AURI is one of the robots developed by Petrobras that are the result of the company’s constant investment in innovation. There are new developments to expand the functionalities of AURI, which will add even more value to the tool and expand the possibilities of profits and advances for the oil industry”, highlights the director of Innovation and Digital Transformation of the company, Juliano Dantas.

The AURI robot has the potential to save more than 1,300 hours of diving operations, contributing to the safety of professionals. It was developed from the challenge of automating the cleaning and visual inspection of flexible pipes, even in water depths greater than 30 meters, where diving time is reduced. The AURI reaches up to 50 meters without limitation of hours and, comparatively, presents a performance – cleaning time reduction – greater than other tools carried by ROV during cleaning and inspection activities. Another advantage is that the AURI can be used even in bad weather conditions, which are a hindrance to the activity of divers.

The robot can be manipulated and installed in flexible ducts to perform cleaning at a speed up to 10 times higher than the current one, with the consequent cost savings. With so many capabilities, the robot has already piqued the interest of companies that provide this type of service. They are waiting for the licensing – the commercial use authorization process – to end in order to have access to the technology.

Source and photo Petrobras Agency :