AND FINALLY: North Sea oil explorer goes Total-ly back to the future to re-invent the Johnny-5 robot

Total's oil inspection robot design competition winner,  ARGOS.
Total’s oil inspection robot design competition winner, ARGOS.

French oil giant Total has been proudly showing off the winning design in a competition to design a robot/ROV to cut inspection, maintenance and repair costs of its North Sea oil rigs…

The ARGOS machine (Autonomous Robots for Gas and Oil Sites) – designed by robot engineers in Austria and Germany – will be (literally) rolled out later this year for sea-trials on Total’s Alwyn platform and at its onshore Shetland gas plant.

Dave Mackinnon, head of technology and innovation for Total, said: “We believe that robots have the potential to play an important role on offshore platforms. We are on the cusp of delivering technology that will improve safety, reduce costs and even prolong the life of North Sea operations.”


But ARGOS looks suspiciously familiar to Johnny-5 – a multi-purpose robot designed for the US Defence department last century by Nova Robotics.

Designed as an artificial soldier and as an intelligent delivery system for nuclear weapons, Johnny-5’s robotic arms are strong enough to crush a large block of ice, yet they are highly articulated and have enough manual dexterity to mix drinks, read books, drive, operate electrical equipment such as car radios and carry out repairs on himself.

Tools on his arm include a small manipulator claw, a rotor device, a soldering iron, a small welding device, lock pick, screwdriver and a drill.In addition to stereoscopic cameras with spectral-analysers he is also equipped with touch sensors, standard and high-powered microphones, a device that can be used to operate equipment by remote control.

And Johnny-5 also went on to star in a number of robot-based action movies.

Last night, sources close to the robo-movie star at his Silicon Valley home said that Johnny-5 has instructed his lawyers to sue for Total breach of copyright and clandestine cloning…

4 Apr 2018

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