Silicon Collar looks at machines and humans at work in over 50 settings across industries and countries. On this blog I will excerpt many of those settings over the next few weeks. On Deal Architect I will excerpt more of the policy parts of the book.
“David Truch is tasked with automation in one such inhospitable environment. Truch is a technology director in BP's Digital Innovation Organization and his job, as he put it in an interview, is to evaluate "what some people call robotics but it's, broadly speaking, the capabilities that are being derived through the marriage of IT and a variety of STEM disciplines applied to craft in flight, ground or water."
“In some ways, our industry has been living for decades with papyrus and stylus, meaning we get a human out there with a clipboard and some paper and pencil capturing a bunch of data. Some of the locations in the world where we are, there is no communications infrastructure, no such thing as cell towers. At best, you can get access to a satellite for information transfer—but it's not cheap. In some cases, in the far north, there just isn't a lot in terms of a satellite constellation to get continuous coverage or continuous transmission of data.”
“That is all changing now. We've done quite a bit of work with unmanned aerial vehicles. As a matter of fact, BP was the first company in North America the FAA has approved to fly a drone under a certificate of authority for pipeline monitoring. We also heavily utilized the Wave Glider technology for water quality monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico.”
“Instead of having to have someone use challenging approaches to collecting data in hard to reach areas, I can send a robotic crawler. I can collect the same information, and I can collect it in digital form. That's where real value is starting to come in—the human eye can only comprehend certain things, it can only see them at a certain amount of resolution and it can only detect something when it gets to a certain point of degradation. It is very hard for a human eye to see pinholes, small blisters or flaking of a coating. These days, when that data can be converted into a digital format we can use pattern recognition, vision recognition algorithms, and set highly accurate baselines.”