Researchers at the Tomsk State University (TSU) have developed a robotic solution for automated pipeline inspection and repair. The robot can move on pipes both vertically and horizontally, isolate a defective spot, and fix the problem.
The developers claim their invention, for which a Russian patent has recently been obtained, is “unrivaled” on the robotics market.
“Conventional diagnostic solutions used in the oil and gas sector move inside a pipe with the flow of gas or crude oil, and using them as operation continues is problematic. Unlike the competition, our robotic system can move on the outward surface of a pipe, causing no problem running it and diagnosing the pipe,” said Prof. Vladimir Syryamkin of the development team.
As the robot scans a pipe, it receives data from an array of sensors (ultrasound, infrared, etc.) and isolates defects of diverse nature, including cracks, cavities, holes, etc. The system is powered by neuro-fuzzy algorithms and works like neurons that can rapidly accumulate new experience and help the robot adapt to new situations.
Artificial intelligence builds a flaw map on a real time basis, and determines what must be done to address the problems. If a defect is not too large or serious, the robot can fix it right then as it scans the pipe.