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Offshore oil exploration gets a boost from NASA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration intends to help engineers at a Norwegian robotics company design a system that could reduce the need for on-site personnel at offshore oil rigs, according to Bloomberg.

Robotic Drilling Systems AS has developed a robot capable of completing some of the more monotonous, and often dangerous, work required for offshore oil exploration. The robot will use adaptive thinking programs to respond to conditions, while a highly sensitive, but powerful arm will allow it to manipulate large, heavy components.

The company has signed an agreement with NASA to share information on projects like the recent Curiosity rover that successfully landed on the surface of Mars, allowing engineers to take advantage of that experience in a setting where it can be similarly difficult to provide on-site control.

Mark Reese, president of rig solutions at National Oilwell Varco, explained that the prominence of this project reflects a change in the oil industry.

"In the past, it’s been all about, 'We need more and more people and experience, and that’s the only way to accomplish this task,'" he noted.

The Washington Post notes that NASA could have more to offer in coming years, with a proposed project to drill into the surface of Mars getting underway.

Prospects for the development of the offshore oil industry are available at PennEnergy's Research area.

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