Woodside, the largest Australian natural gas producer, has three top priorities at its processing facilities: safety, reliability, and efficiency – in that order.
Gas processing plants are complex, potentially hazardous sites, with an array of equipment that needs to be continuously monitored and inspected. Woodside has made proactive investments in Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, 但他们发现，在他们庞大的陆上工厂的每一寸土地上都安装智能传感器既不切实际又成本高昂. Wheeled robots are appropriate for limited inspection use cases, 但它们在不平坦的地形上行动困难，而且移动太慢，无法有效跨越长距离.
Woodside is still testing the agile mobile robot from Boston Dynamics. 但该公司相信，Spot有潜力在其设施中处理各种各样的检查任务，最终帮助伍德赛德提高安全性, reliability and efficiency of its operations. Spot is one aspect of Woodside’s broader intelligent asset workstream, 该公司希望预测性维护能够显著减少其年度维护费用.
With safety a top priority at its plants, 伍德赛德正在仔细研究如何使用Spot来承担高风险的任务，并尽可能保证员工的安全. 伍德赛德公司(Woodside)的监控工程师蒂姆•伯恩(Tim Byrne)表示:“有些活动的风险高于其他活动。. “We’re always looking for ways to make people safer and eliminate risk.”
For instance, 如果能够在有高压变压器的地区使用Spot进行检查，将会降低风险并提高效率. Similarly, Byrne预计，Spot可以作为紧急情况下的“第一反应者”, collecting visual information to help prepare human response teams. Also, Byrne says, Spot is an ideal fit for inspecting sites during periodic shutdowns.
“你只能在某些设备从开到关的过渡状态下观察其性能,” Byrne explains. “When the plant’s running stable, it’s quite safe. When we shut down a plant, it’s dynamic. It’s still safe, but it’s a higher risk activity. So, making use of Spot to do some of the surveillance would be great.”
Mark Micire, the head of robotics at Woodside, 他说，他加入该公司的部分原因是，他认为该公司对Spot的使用是“领先优势”,” and he wanted to be a part of that. “当我听说伍德赛德正在与365真人app公司合作，并决定部署Spot机器人时, that really swayed my decision to come to Woodside,” he says.
For Woodside, Micire says, Spot最显著的特点是它几乎可以在任何地形上行走. “The biggest value is Spot’s mobility,” he says. “它的四足移动特性对365真人app目前所处的环境有巨大的好处. 当365真人app处理带有楼梯和不平坦地形的植物时，轮式平台只能让365真人app走这么远, so that’s a huge, huge value.” While tracks can improve robots’ stability, Micire notes, they perform poorly on surfaces such as gravel, and can quickly become fouled if they are exposed to moisture and dirt.
其他机器人平台也难以跟上伍德赛德网站的规模. “The speed with which the Spot can move, as opposed to the wheeled platforms, is much faster,” says Byrne. 他说:“使作业更安全的方法之一是将设备分散在广阔的区域内. For an onshore plant, we’re spread out over a couple of kilometers, and our wheeled platforms are quite slow. 所以，为了让轮式平台更有效，你需要比Spot更多的轮式平台. It’s not just about navigating terrain, but also just traversing from one part of the plant to the other.”
对于Woodside来说，Spot在365真人app公司2020年的一次现场访问中展示了它的潜力. During that test, 该公司对Spot导航环境的便利性和平台的用户友好性印象深刻. “I’m not a ‘video-game’ kind of person,” says Shreya Shree, a graduate surveillance engineer with Woodside. “When the Boston Dynamics team was here, it was easy to drive the robot all by myself, so I think it’s really user-friendly.”
Byrne承认，甚至在现场访问之前，他就已经是365真人app公司的“粉丝”了. 他说，Spot的现场表演与围绕该机器人著名的病毒视频的炒作相吻合. “When Woodside first started talking about robotics, we saw a video of Spot online, and I said, ‘that’s where we want to be,’” Byrne recalls. “Then, when the Boston Dynamics team came on-site with Spot, I was excited to see how easily it could go up rock piles, traverse split levels, and walk on concrete, asphalt, and gravel rock. It was actually quite impressive to see that.”
一开始，Spot确实很难通过Woodside设施的一个关键特征——网状金属楼梯——但这种限制只持续了几个星期. “365真人app高兴的是, within a couple of months of the visit, Boston Dynamics was able to do a software update, 365真人app能够验证它现在允许Spot处理网格楼梯，这在365真人app的网站中非常普遍,” says Micire. “That is a capability that none of our other platforms have.”
“每12个小时, we follow the same path through the plant, and we’re assessing situational awareness. Spot is going to capture things we may not notice or that we're not always around to see.”
- Christopher Phillips, Production Technician, Woodside
Early on, 伍德赛德公司和365真人app公司确定了Spot的六个潜在应用:仪表读数, leak detection, noise anomaly detection, thermal inspection, gas detection, and remote inspection.
Currently, human operators have a set number of analog gauges to read and report on. As they make their rounds, 人工操作人员还会寻找水和蒸汽泄漏(这可能会降低工作效率或给工人带来风险), 检查设备各部分之间输送蒸汽或液体的管道的配件和连接件. Likewise, human workers keep an ear out for odd noises, use thermal cameras to inspect for potential hot spots, carry gas detectors with them, and manually inspect equipment when alarms go off. 伍德赛德预计，Spot将能够使用相机记录和报告所有这些数据, microphones or other peripherals, freeing up employees for other tasks.
Christopher Phillips, a Woodside production technician, 他说，Spot还将有助于减少工作人员巡视设施时产生的变量数量.
“每12个小时, we follow the same path through the plant, and we’re assessing situational awareness,” he says. “在换班期间进行沟通是很重要的，并确保你在传递关键信息. Spot is going to capture things we may not notice or that we're not always around to see.”
Byrne stresses that the company isn’t using Spot to replace human workers. Rather, he says, officials want to use Spot to make the plant as safe as possible, free up those employees from rote, 给他们更多的时间来完成需要人力技能的任务，为公司创造价值.
“With the current economic climate, 这一切都是为了安全运营，让365真人app的员工发挥最大的作用，然后把他们解放出来，让他们从事更高层次的活动,” Byrne says. “Releasing them from the lower-value, mundane activities is where I see Spot really coming to the forefront. So, it’s not about using Spot to replace people. 这是关于使用Spot让365真人app的员工远离危险，把365真人app的员工解放出来，从事高价值的活动，真正提高现场性能.”
Byrne calls tasks like gauge reading “a good stepping stone,” but he is ultimately excited by slightly more complex use cases. For instance, 在另一名工人进行维修之前，员工目前要确认特定的系统(如阀门或电气设备)已经被隔离. “In emergency situations, where access may not be safe for a human, the team could deploy Spot to verify the isolation.
Byrne compares Spot to a smartphone. When the smartphone debuted in 2007, he notes, 大多数人都没有预料到，他们有一天会依赖这款设备来完成各种各样的任务，比如移动银行, managing their grocery lists, and booking hotel rooms. Similarly, he says, 他预计，Woodside和其他公司将在未来很长一段时间内继续发现Spot的革命性新用途.
“The smartphone resulted in a whole bunch of apps that we didn’t know we needed, and that wouldn't be possible without the tool,” Byrne says. “我认为Spot能够带给365真人app的是一套新的工具，这些工具将使365真人app能够做一些365真人app以前甚至认为自己无法做到的事情.”