A Novel Robot for Monitoring Offshore Platforms Egyptian Researcher Develops an Innovative Low-Cost and Highly Manufacturable Multi-Sensing Robot System for Monitoring Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms

A young Egyptian researcher at the University of Edinburgh has succeeded in developing a new multi-sensing robot, designed to be low-cost and highly manufacturable, and thus can be deployed in large collectives for monitoring offshore oil and gas platforms.

Dr. Mohammed ElSayed has successfully received a PhD in Robotics from The University of Edinburgh last year on this research project under the supervision of Dr. Adam Stokes, who was previously a Post-Doctoral research associate at Harvard University and is currently working as an Associate Professor at The University of Edinburgh. Earning his PhD at the age of 24, Dr. ElSayed is considered the youngest researcher to earn a PhD degree within his batch.

Dr. ElSayed’s PhD research has attracted major interest rom different offshore oil and gas companies, which aims to use this technology for monitoring their offshore platform. Dr. ELSayed is currently setting up a spin-off  company on this technology along with his supervisor Dr. Stokes and partners from Imperial College London.

Dr. ElSayed received his BSc in Electrical Engineering from The American University of Sharjah and MSc in Bioelectronics and Biosensors from The University of Edinburgh.

“Due to their hostile nature, offshore platforms present a high risk to human life and a high cost of operation” said Dr. Elsayed, adding that “robotic systems can provide the capability required to exploit the harshest of environments, whilst reducing the risk to human life and operation costs.” Dr. ElSayed also stated, “The developed robot system provides a more cost-effective and safer method for inspection and maintenance of offshore energy platforms, which helps protect people and keep them away from such dangerous environments.”

Dr. ElSayed’s PhD research was part of the Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets (ORCA Hub) project in the United Kingdom, which is a 3.5 year £93 million project that brings together top industrial companies (Total, Chevron, British Petroleum and many others) with academic universities (University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, University of Oxford, Imperial College London and University of Liverpool).

Dr. ElSayed stated that the robot is capable of sensing its environment, monitoring the condition of offshore structures, adhering to surfaces of different materials, and climbing surfaces at different angles. The robotic system can be used in real-time condition monitoring for offshore platforms, and monitoring different machines, equipment and structures on the platform. “The robot can then notify people on-shore when action needs to be taken,” said Dr. ElSayed; “in this way, risk to people is reduced by keeping them on-shore and away from the offshore platform, where they can only access the offshore platform when needed.”

The developed robotic system took part in  multiple field trials, use cases, and research projects. The contribution of the developed system to both industrial demonstrations and other research output shows its great impact and value. The robot was used as a part of underwater sensing network to monitor environmental conditions underwater. The robot was also used for environmental water quality monitoring, which is useful in monitoring pollution levels resulting from offshore platforms in their surrounding marine environment.

Dr. ElSayed is currently working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in The University of Edinburgh on the “Connect-R” project, which is a £6 million project in the United Kingdom run in collabration between industrial partners (Barrnon, RACE, Ross Robotics, Tharsus, Jigsaw Structures), and academic institutions (The University of Edinburgh and Royal Holloway University of London). The project focuses on the development of robotic systems for nuclear environments (Fukushima Daiichi, Chernobyl, Sellafield, and others). Dr. ElSayed is designing a large scale self-building modular robotic platform that can provide access to the work-sites in nuclear environments. The robot acts as a scaffolding system, where it provides structure in unstructured environments, and allows other robotic systems to easily access work areas in these environments to carry out vital operations.

Dr. ElSayed is also working as a Teaching Assistant for biomedical engineering courses aimed at MSc students at The University of Edinburgh. Dr. ElSayed has previously worked as a consultant on a robotics project at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi. While working on his PhD, Dr. ElSayed was acting as the Vice President of the Engineering Graduate Society at the University of Edinburgh, which is responsible for organizing events for all researchers across the School of Engineering at the university.

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