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MM Blog: Slithering Underwater Robot

A quick look at an undersea snake robot that could help maintain offshore oil and gas rigs.

Offshore drilling is a crucial component of energy production, particularly in Europe, which derives a sizeable chuck of its energy from the North Atlantic. Maintaining offshore rigs, however, is a cumbersome and expensive process. But Norwegian engineers could have a solution. Maritime tech company Kongsberg, energy giant Statoil and a spin-off company from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology this week announced an agreement to bolster development of a new swimming robot.

The robot — called the Eelume — essentially looks like a long metallic snake with lights at the head. It "swims" using a slithering motion or with the help of attached thrusters. It's a bit of an unsettling image — particularly for those already averse to actual snakes — but engineers believe that the Eelume could more easily perform inspections, tweak valves and clean equipment. Those tasks, officials said, account for a large percentage of undersea equipment maintenance — and should result in significant cost savings.


Could other undersea equipment or technology benefit from a swimming snake robot? Could similar robots help manufacturers reach into tight spaces on shore?

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