American Robotics presents an autonomous drone system

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Cost-effective inspection of oil and gas sites is advancing alongside the use of drone technology.

American Robotics not only showcased its drone-in-a-box at the Hart Energy Executive Oil Conference, but highlighted the fact that its Scout system is autonomous – authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate without a human pilot.

“It changes the economics of human deployment,” said Jason Cornell, vice president, product. This allows the company’s customers to more efficiently deploy their pumps that would otherwise spend their time traveling to rental sites or operators who must be on hand to operate inspection drones, he said. Explain.

Being autonomous, Cornell said the drone is able to monitor its airspace for other aircraft and take evasive action.

The Scout system is comprised of a site-installed base station that allows the drone to fly up to a 2-mile radius and inspect assets several times a day. Inspections range from loss of containment – ​​oil or water – to fugitive emissions and site security. The drone returns to base to recharge and as it recharges it uploads the data it has collected into a computer which analyzes it for anomalies and then the data is transferred to a portal which the customer can access.

“This allows them to focus on critical instances to optimize their remediation efforts,” Cornell said.

The value to the customer is a significant reduction in expenses, a reduction in reputational risk related to damage caused by spills or emissions or by non-compliance with regulations, and a reduction in safety risks, he said. he continued.

The number of base stations required depends on the extent of the facilities the customer wishes to inspect. Cornell said his company is working with a client who has 12,000 well pads to inspect, which requires about 50 base stations.

The facility inspection threshold is at least 10 to 15 well pads, he said.

American Robotics manufactures its drones and base stations and works with customers “to understand their needs and incorporate them into our manufacturing plans” before manufacturing the equipment. The company plans to add a high-resolution RGB and thermal camera payload as well as an optical gas imaging camera to better inspect upstream and midstream assets, from pumping units and heater process devices to flares and more.

The company has worked in other industries, but Cornell sees incredible opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

Especially, he said, because the proposed new regulations are expected to mandate more frequent and repeatable inspections.

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