June 2015 - 1ST ARGOS Challenge competition: the robots on the field test

A year and a few days after the selection of the five teams, the first competition of the ARGOS Challenge was held from June 22nd to the 26th in Lacq (South West France). AIR-K, ARGONAUTS, FOXIRIS, LIO and VIKINGS were back with the intention to demonstrate the capabilities of their robots through a series of inspection missions, risk management and endurance tasks. Concentration and determination, moments of joy but also disappointments punctuated the five days of the competition. Highlights of an intense week full of emotions.

The homologation phase 

the week began with a meeting during which Kris Kydd, project manager of the ARGOS Challenge, annouced the safety instructions, specific to the industrial sites, which represent a particularly new environment for the teams.

The program of the day continued with the installation of the teams in their workshop. Early afternoon, the robots went through initial tests to pass the mandatory homologation phase to allow them to access the competition site where the missions will be performed. Weight, height and width were checked, as were the safety requirements, such as the emergency stop and anti-collision system.

Many constraints are taken into account: the robots must not weigh more than 100kg, be narrow enough to not get in the way of operators or obstruct the 70 cm-wide walkways, and be capable of reading measurements at heights of up to two meters.

Technical dossier presentation: the face-to-face with the jury

Each team presented its project to the ARGOS Challenge jury, composed of four external experts, four of Total’s collaborators and chaired by Alain Goulois, the Vice-President of Total E&P R&D until autumn 2014. The hour-long talk enabled the jury to assess the projects progress and remind the teams that the priority was to develop a certifiable ATEX robot, sufficiently resistant to operate in a potentially explosive atmosphere.

The mission tasks: the moment of truth

The mission tasks took place on the 3rd and 4th days from 8am to 7pm. In turn, the teams were called to the competition site (UMAD) to perform specific mission scenarios within a period of two hours. The tests included:

Carrying out routine inspection tasks

> Locating, reading and recording check points: taking equipment pressure readings, checking the position of valves (opened or closed).

> Analyzing data and alerting the operator autonomously if it does not correspond to the normal operating range.

Managing risk situations

> Overcoming an identified obstacle.

> Being able to autonomously detect unidentified objects and alert the operator.

> Recognizing the sound of an emergency alarm and knowing how to reach the designated safe area independently in the event of an emergency.

One of the tasks consisted of alternating several times between autonomous and remote-operated modes because the operator on site must be able, at any time, to take control and pilot the robot remotely.

Speed and endurance tests

The rules of the ARGOS Challenge specify that the robots must be capable of operating on site at least two hours without interruption and reach a minimum speed of 2km/h. A path was laid out in a gymnasium for this special race and three of the five robots (ARGONAUTS, VIKINGS & FOXIRIS) passed the test in front of a rapyurous audience composed of the teams, the organisation team and the jury. VIKINGS was the quickest and FOXIRIS showed promising capacities by finishing the test with an additional energy reserve of three hours!

The conclusions of the jury

In July, each team will receive a comprehensive and personalized review, detailing the mission tasks results and the jury’s feedback. In the meantime, Alain Goulois, President of the jury,  gathered the teams on the last day of the competition to encourage them and give them a first feedback.

  • VIKINGS impressed the jury by performing an inspection mission autonomously in a record time of 3 minutes and 30 seconds.  
  • ARGONAUTS demonstrated a very good man-machine interaction system, reliable and responsive.
  • AIR-K has shown strong autonomous mobility capabilities.
  • FOXIRIS distinguished itself by its exceptional endurance.
  • LIO achieved the best results in instrumentation reading and analysing.

The teams now have nine months to improve their performance before the second competition, due  in March 2016 which will be decisive for the final classification. The countdown has begun!

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    The teams and their robots, the organizers and the jury

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    Homologation phase - here with FOXIRIS

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    Competition site

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    LIO workshop

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    AIR-K workshop

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    VIKINGS workshop

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    Alain Goulois, President of the jury, taking notes in front of the workshops

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    ARGONAUTS during a mission scenario

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    ARGONAUTS robot

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    The VIKINGS team during a mission scenario

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    The VIKINGS team in the control room during a mission scenario

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    VIKINGS robot

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    Discussion between the organization team and few members of the jury

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    LIO about to start a mission scenario

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    LIO robot

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    The LIO team in the control room during a mission scenario

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    Jury room - the jury watching the robot during the mission

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    The jury

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    ARGONAUTS ready to start its mission task

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    The ARGONAUTS team in the control room during a mission scenario

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    Kris Kydd, ARGOS Challenge Project Manager checking the equipment before each task

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    AIR-K about to start its mission scenario

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    AIR-K robot

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    AIR-K in the control room during a mission scenario

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    FOXIRIS having a discussion with a member of the jury

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    FOXIRIS robot

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    The FOXIRIS team in the control room during a mission scenario

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    The endurance race

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    The girls of the ARGOS Challenge - From left to right: Dorothea (ARGONAUTS), Michie (AIR-K), Nancy (FOXIRIS) and Pailin (VIKINGS)

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    ARGOS Challenge 1st competition - June 2015

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    ARGOS Challenge 1st competition - June 2015

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