Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has successfully tested a prototype robot that it intends to use for plant inspections.
The EX ROVR has explosion-protection features to limit the danger of it igniting a blast or fire itself from electric sparks or heat, even in areas of flammable gas.
The test was conducted jointly with JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation at its Mizushima petroleum refinery in Kurashiki, Japan and MHI plans to also use the robot in power generation plants.
During the test, the EX ROVR moved autonomously through several floors of the narrow plant building, navigating stairs and collecting data from various sensors. It also charged itself at a docking station.
The robot is still in development, but MHI said the test confirmed that it meets the requirements for basic functionality to conduct routine patrol inspections and handle emergency situations.
MHI and JXTG Energy will now analyze the test results to further resolve issues and make improvements.
MHI has previously successfully developed robotic technologies for support in nuclear plant accident containment.