Robotics research coordinated by the University of Oulu takes robots to dangerous sites 

Robots are being explored as a solution for safer and more cost-efficient maintenance of difficult-to-access industrial sites.  A data technology project coordinated by the University of Oulu has been granted funding amounting to almost four million euros from the EU Horizon 2020 framework programme. 

The project co-operation is coordinated by the Biomimetics and Intelligent Systems Group (BISG) at the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering of the University of Oulu, and headed by Professor Juha Röning. The consortium of eight different organisations representing five European countries will convene for the first time in Oulu this week.
The four-year HYFLIERS (HYbrid FLying-rollIng with-snakE-aRM robot for contact inspection) project innovates advanced robots and their introduction in industrial plants. The objective is to develop the world's first industrially integrated robot with hybrid air and ground mobility with a long-reach hyper-redundant manipulator capable of reaching sites in potentially dangerous environments for human inspectors that have been out of reach for earlier robots. 
Partners from the top of Europe

In addition to Finland, the HYFLIERS consortium has partners from Spain, Italy, France and Switzerland, representing highly-ranked universities, research institutes and industrial plants, and two of the world's leading production companies in oil and gas industry. The University of Oulu's share of the total funding of 3.9 million is almost 800,000 euros. 
“The project raises the University of Oulu's already high profile in the field of robotics. The strong consortium coordinated by us brings together the best forces suited for this kind of development in particular and gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their top-level expertise to the whole world by means of this innovation with social and business significance,” says Professor Juha Röning, director in charge of the project.

Aiming at safety and cost-effectiveness

In the project, robotics is applied to ultrasound-based pipe inspection measurements in oil and gas production plants, performed with a view to monitoring the safety of the plants and the need for repair measures. Up to 90% of these activities are traditionally carried out by men working at elevated locations with the use of ladders, scaffolds, ropes or cranes under dangerous conditions. The employees may also be exposed to high temperatures or toxic materials. In spite of safety measures, the risk of accidents is high. 
With robotics, the aim is to reach higher process safety, quality and cost-effectiveness. The results of the project could also be widely applied to monitoring methods used for demanding inspections in other industrial sectors.
“Technologies will be demonstrated in the last phase of the project. A few years after that, solutions developed in the HYFLIERS project could result in commercial products that enhance the human and environmental safety and save costs,” wishes Ulrico Celentano, technical coordinator and operative leader of the project.


Last updated: 9.1.2018