ANYmal, the autonomous quadruped robot developed by ANYbotics, inspects a BASF industrial site. The Swiss start-up and the German chemical group announced their partnership at the end of March 2021. The partners seek to take advantage of the use of ANYmal, a robot designed for inspection and data collection in complex industrial environments, and evaluate its benefits.
Simulations before deployment on site
BASF being a chemical group, its industrial sites often have massive infrastructure, state-of-the-art machinery and extremely rigorous processes. An ideal playground on which to test ANYmal’s abilities. The partners have been working on a pilot at the BASF site in Ludwigshafen for two years, which covers more than 10 km².
Prior to this partnership, BASF had already started investing in digitization by building a digital twin of one of its production plants in Ludwigshafen. ANYbotics teams were able to rely on this BASF mapping to simulate an autonomous inspection mission to verify mobility through critical areas as well as the visibility of points of interest from the robot’s point of view. Upstream validation of ANYmal’s capacities on this site, which accelerated its deployment.
Gauge reading, acoustic measurement and temperature measurement
ANYmal can move around complex environments completely independently, up and down steps and stairs. Completely waterproof and dustproof, it is also equipped with a projector allowing it to move and work in the dark. Lidars and a PTZ camera allow him to benefit from a 360-degree view of the environment in which he is located. Equipped with wide-angle cameras, thermal sensors, microphones, gas and object detectors, this quadruped robot is designed to perform many tasks of inspecting machines and installations subject to possible failures and anomalies.
ANYmal has been programmed to stay on its charging station until a mission is scheduled. He then leaves his charging station on his own to carry out his task without anyone giving him the order. It is programmed to scan BASF equipment, read gauges, take acoustic measurements of pumps and compressors, and check temperatures at specific locations. It analyzes the collected data itself in order to transmit unusual events.
A robot test on offshore platforms
These inspection tasks are very repetitive. Delegating them to autonomous robots frees up time for employees to concentrate on other missions. But also to improve the quality and quantity of data collected thanks to the repetition of the process by a robotic system.
The Swiss start-up founded in 2016 by students of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (EPZD) has met with some success. Petronas is also testing its quadruped robot on offshore and onshore oil rigs for a commercial deployment of ANYmal in explosive environments by 2022.