“In June 2014, five teams from Austria & Germany, Spain & Portugal, France, Japan and Switzerland were selected to take part in the ARGOS challenge. They have less than three years to design and build the first autonomous surface robot complying with ATEX/ IECEx standards*. The robot will be able to operate in specific environments encountered in the oil and gas industry.

By launching this challenge in partnership with the French National Research Agency (ANR), Total has adopted an open innovation strategy. The aim was to involve associations in robotics, partly to make them more aware of the operating constraints encountered in oil and gas production activities, and partly to encourage them to suggest innovative robotics solutions, providing answers to the problems we encounter, and increasing safety for our personnel.

The next stages? We shall arrange to meet the teams on three separate occasions at a site representative of a typical Total operating environment in Lacq, South-West France to test the robots under similar conditions to those encountered on our operating sites. ANR will work alongside us in the coming stages through to the end of the challenge in March 2017.”

*to be sufficiently robust to operate in a potentially explosive atmosphere