Phillips 66’s autonomous robot completes tank inspection

    An autonomous robot has completed its first in-service inspection of an above-ground diesel storage tank for refiner Phillips 66.

    The unmanned robot, made by Boston-based robotics company Square Robot, can inspect petroleum product storage tank floors while product remains in the tank, saving both time and money, The Houston Chronicle reports.

    Above-ground storage tanks usually have to be removed from service, drained, opened and cleaned before tank bottoms can be evaluated—an expensive process. The use of robots, which snap high-resolution images of the interior and take readings of the tank’s sediment levels and coating conditions, means personnel don’t have to enter the tank for inspection.

    The successful first tank inspection comes more than a year after Phillips 66 first announced it would be collaborating with Square Root to develop the unmanned robot. Spokesperson Hillary Bruton says the company plans to deploy unmanned robots across several of its refineries and plants.

    With the oil and gas industry is in the midst of a digital transformation, unmanned robots are likely to become a more common site in refineries, oilfields and offshore drilling rigs. The size of the artificial intelligence market in the oil and gas industry is expected to grow to $2.85 billion by 2022 from about $1.57 billion in 201, according to Illinois-based research firm Markets and Markets. Read the full story.

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