Offshore Shipyard Deploys Spot the Robotic Dog to Monitor Equipment

File image courtesy Boston Dynamics

Published Nov 17, 2020 8:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

Aker Solutions' Kvaerner shipyard has a new assistant to keep track of its heavy equipment around the yard. Working with industrial data company Cognite, Kvaerner brought in a high tech solution - Spot, the familiar four-legged robot built by Boston Dynamics. 

As fork trucks, yard cranes, trailers, generators and other assets get shuffled around a shipyard on a daily basis, just finding out where they are can eat up valuable time. "Today, I have a guy who knows where all the lifts are. If you want a lift, you call him, and he can tell you where a free one is. If he's sick, you have a problem," says Kent Heine Spissoy, the head of assembly and logistics and Kvaerner. 

The Cognite / Boston Dynamics solution is simple. Spot can walk around in industrial environments without too much difficulty, taking obstacles like stairways and rough surfaces in stride. Cognite fitted a Spot with a 360-degree camera, which takes imagery wherever it goes, and its software can visually "recognize" large coded markers pasted onto the side of each piece of equipment that the yard wants to identify. All that remains to keep track of the gear is to have Spot walk around the facility on a regular basis, recording as it goes. In addition to equipment tracking, employees will have access to the 360-degree imaging for a record of what was happening and where at any given time. 

Spot has also been tested on oil rigs, including in an imaging and digital measurement application aboard BP's Mad Dog facility in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. When fitted with a LIDAR sensor and 360-degree camera, the unit can survey and fully measure a segment of the rig remotely, without requiring an engineer to do a site visit to perform the same task. This streamlines the planning process for refits, maintenance and overhauls. Spot can also be used in patrol applications to watch and listen for abnormalities; if fitted with hyperspectral imaging equipment, it can "see" gas leaks that are invisible to the human eye.

The four-legged mobility that gives Spot its utility in industrial environments also makes it suitable for a variety of other rough-service applications, including construction, manufacturing, law enforcement, defense, and (perhaps unexpectedly) agriculture - doing the kind of "dull, dirty or dangerous" jobs that humans prefer not to do.