Innovation 02 Aug 2023

Introducing Spector: A Woodside robotics first

In a world of constant change, Woodside continues to operate at the forefront of innovation. Finding and developing new ways to work safer and smarter.

Now after years of research and development at its Karda laboratory in Perth, Woodside's Technology Development team is proud to announce its most exciting product to date: Spector.   

Spector is a ground-breaking robotic data capture service, combining pioneering technology with Woodside’s best operational practices.   

The Spector Boston Dynamics Spot robots are equipped with a range of payloads including a 360-degree camera, 30x optical zoom camera, and thermal camera.    

To deploy the robots safely, the Spector team also developed an industry-first safety payload through rigorous risk assessments involving Woodsides technical authorities in safety and engineering. This allows Spector to autonomously navigate the Woodside-operated Pluto LNG Plant, capturing images in extreme and potentially hazardous environments.    

The first set of Spector captured images are being used to complete regulatory visual inspections for electrical equipment under Woodside’s F27 performance standard. These inspections are necessary to identify problems with electrical equipment before they become dangerous faults.    

It can take up to an hour and a half to complete an end-to-end visual inspection when inspectors must locate and travel to the equipment. But now with Spector, inspectors have the images they need to complete inspections sent to them directly through Woodside’s digital twin – FUSE.    

Bruce Hill, Electrical Inspection Coordinator at Woodside and customer of Spector, says, “one of the biggest benefits of the robot captured images is that they can be used to identify defects before arriving in the field. This means we can bring spares and fix any issues as soon as possible, saving even more time.”   

Spector was developed through direct collaboration with some of the world’s leading robotics companies. Spector uses the highly capable Spot Robot from Boston Dynamics, and advanced mission management software developed by DroneDeploy.    

David Inggs, Head of Robotics & Automation at DroneDeploy says, “DroneDeploy’s advanced robotic inspection platform enables Woodside to programmatically send robots to inspect critical assets. This significantly reduces the time inspectors need to spend in hazardous environments, providing them with remote access to status updates of assets to identify issues fast and automate updates to asset management records.”   

Looking to the future, Bruce Hill hopes, “we build learned image recognition of defects and early reporting in a continuous supervision capacity, allowing other teams to be notified when there might be an issue based on the data trended over time.”    

Today, Spector captures images for electrical inspections. But in the future these same robots can carry an array of new sensors that capture data for many other inspection needs.   

Spector is an important step in Woodside’s journey to adopt new technology for safer, more efficient operations.