🛣️ America’s Bridges, Factories and Highways Are in Dire Need of Repairs. Bring in the Robots.
These days, Shell is able to keep the plant running, and keep repair personnel on the ground and at a safe distance as they operate wall-climbing robots that inspect things like steel holding tanks at millimeter resolution, says Steven Treviño, a robotics engineer at Shell. Using a variety of sensors, the robots can look for both corrosion and cracking. This helps the team shorten the list of things they have to take care of when a full shutdown occurs. The magnetic wall climbers Shell is using are made by a Pittsburgh-based startup called, appropriately, Gecko Robotics. After testing the Gecko robots at Geismar, Shell plans to expand their use to offshore facilities.
“There are hundreds of types of corrosion,” says Jake Loosararian, CEO of Gecko Robotics, “and we’ve been developing technology and software to analyze what kind of damage is happening.” Gecko began as a robotics company, but has since expanded into creating software to process the data its robots gather. The startup makes systems that are now used to track more than 60,000 assets across the globe, including power plants, pipelines, oil refineries, dams, U.S. Navy vessels and other military equipment.
When it comes to inspections, “often the data you need is literally in plain sight, it’s just hard to collect it,” says Bry, of Skydio.