Texas oil production has amazingly doubled in just three years, marking the fastest production rise ever. All thanks to shale oil technology. Texas production is now 2.7 millions barrels per day, which is the highest since 1981, and is starting to approach Texas’s past peak production of 3.4 million barrels. Year after year production was in slow decline and it seemed the glory days of Texas oil were past.. then suddenly – boom – a new innovation & decades of decline are reversed in just THREE years.
Moreover, Texas is now once again one of the most oil rich places in the world… Fuelfix:
Texas produced 35 percent of the United States’ crude oil in September. The growth largely has been fueled by oil production in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale and West Texas’ Permian Basin, which have expanded rapidly to produce more than 1 million barrels of oil per day each, placing them among nine “super-giant oil fields” in the world, Perry says.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things we take for granted that offer opportunities for step-changes and intellectual property-backed innovation. Dyneema seems to have created specially coated nylon ropes that are as strong as the massive steel ropes used in the offshore oil & gas industry but 1/7th the weight while also being friction resistant, thus removing the need for protective jackets.
“Modern tugs are more like Ferraris than tractors.” In other words, they react faster to the tug master’s commands, so placing greater demands on the ropes they use. Factor in the trend towards two- and three-person crews, and increasingly the situation is one crewmember, alone on deck, having to rapidly manhandle a steel rope that weighs in at an unwieldy 14kg per meter (roughly 30lbs per yard).
…Which is where a new rope from maritime rope and cable manufacturer Lankhorst Ropes and DSM Dyneema comes in. Called Lanko®Force, it’s a 12-strand braided rope forerunner (or pendant) made of Dyneema® yarns that is as strong as a comparable steel rope while being a massive seven times lighter.
Using Dyneema® in ropes for the towage industry is not new, of course. What is new is a fiber rope forerunner with no protective jacket. As Wardenier explained in a keynote presentation at the Tugnology ‘13 Conference, in London, Lankhorst Ropes and DSM Dyneema have developed an abrasion-resistant coating that provides a viable alternative to protective jacketing for HMPE (high modulus polyethylene) forerunner tow ropes. The low-friction, non-sticky ICO-DYN 20 coating is applied to the rope during production, creating a tough protective film on the outer layer of the rope. The only place where a protective jacket is still used is in the high-wear area of the eye splice.
The car manufacturing group Volkswagen has integrated an industrial robotic arm from Denmark’s Universal Robots to collaborate directly with employees at a Volkswagen plant in Salzgitter Germany.
This is the first collaborative robot in use at Volkswagen worldwide. The six-axis robotic arm has an integrated safety mode which allows it to collaborate directly with people without any protective guards which optimizes the ergonomic working processes in the plant.
In a statement from the press release, Jürgen Häfner, project manager at Volkswagen’s Salzgitter plant explains the company wants to prevent long-term burdens on employees in all areas of the company through an ergonomic workplace layout.
“By using robots without guards, they can work together hand in hand with the robot. In this way, the robot becomes a production assistant in manufacture and as such can release staff from ergonomically unfavorable work,” explains Häfner.
The company in question, Universal Robots, is also already very active in China. You know that robotic technology is getting really cheap when it starts undercutting Chinese labor…
“Smaller robots are the ones that are having the biggest success in China,” Iversen told the Post. “It’s a flexibility issue that robots can fit into many applications. For those traditional robots, there is not enough room.”
Since entering the Chinese market in December 2011, Universal Robots has teamed up with 11 partners to distribute its lightweight robots to the mainland’s SMEs. One of the company’s customers was in the printed circuit board industry, employing robots in loading materials into production machines, Iversen says. “By putting up robots here, it can have very consistent production, and also be safer.”
“What we see in China is that SMEs are moving from being low-cost manufacturers to quality-oriented producers now,” he says, noting the transition will cause a shortage of skilled labour. Although the cost of a robot may hinder SMEs, Iversen says his robots are competitive in terms of cost, with the price typically recouped in only 2-1/2 years.
“The 2-1/2-year payback period is only under the current labour costs. If wages continue to go up, the payback period will be even shorter,” he says.
The implementation costs are also low as the robots are simple to install and user-friendly. “This is a competitive payback period when compared with other machinery investment.”
Iversen declined to reveal sales figures over the past a year and half since it entered the mainland market, but he expects sales to more than double every year from next year to 2016.
Skills and education are becoming more important than ever. Low cost labor is also becoming less of an edge. Great news for manufacturing in developed countries.
Every day, millions of people check in on Foursquare. We took a year’s worth of check-ins in New York City and Tokyo and plotted them on a map. Each dot represents a single check-in, while the straight lines link sequential check-ins.
What you can see here represents the power of check-in data — on Foursquare, every city around the world pulses with activity around places every hour of every day.
Following on from the previous post, here’s a TED video on Bio Printing, from two years ago. The craziest part is where they show a printer that a wounded patient would lie under. The scan makes a first pass, analyzes the patient’s wound. Then on the second pass it fires human cells, cloned from the patient, to fill in the wound. And they’re working on this technology right now. Insane.
March 24 – For the first time scientists have printed human embryonic stem cells using a 3D printer. The Heriot-Watt University team’s research could eventually lead to human organs being printed on demand and an end to animal drug testing.
Robotic farming… coming soon. Robots in farming can help reduce the need for low skilled, low pay labor, whether found overseas or imported, and are good news for developed countries where labor costs are high.
Turns out that autonomous farming vehicles are already in development and apparently may only cost an additional $30,000, for a vehicle that originally costs $30,000, as described in Robotics Business Review:
One natural area would be in overnight crop monitoring and spraying as robots can provide their own lighting, Dr. Schmoldt said. “Humans in the fields generally don’t do well after daylight.”
Dr. Schmoldt’s office oversees two separate projects at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh that are developing automated farming systems for specialty crops, one focusing on apples and the other on oranges. The combined annual crop yield for both fruits is nearly $5 billion.
One such aspect of the CASC project was converting a two-seat Toro four-wheel drive utility vehicle into an autonomous electric system that monitors crops for fruit health and bugs through lasers that have a 200-degree field of vision.
“It is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ this product is ready for market,” said Dana Lonn, director ofToro’s Center for Advanced Turf Technology, one of CASC’s industrial partners. “We are working on the value proposition of making the economics work so that farmers can get the job done at less money.”
Mr. Lonn added that autonomous vehicles are “not quite good enough” to replace workers and there will still need to be some human interaction. One of the challenges remains making such a vehicle a cost benefit for the grower.
As for a price tag, Mr. Lonn estimates that the autonomous vehicle would be roughly twice that of a non-autonomous model that goes for $30,000.
While the vehicle mentioned is double the price, and probably needs to come down for it to be widely adopted, $30,000 in additional cost actually doesn’t seem that bad given that farms would no longer need to use a driver. Seems like another reason why robotics will go from being a niche phenomenon to a massive industry over the next ten years.
Robotics, drones, and artificial intelligence are going to advance faster than we can even imagine. Just as computing power has doubled every ~2 years according to Moore’s Law, robotics and artificial intelligence capabilities are advancing extremely fast, in fact, actually piggy-backing on Moore’s Law and the rapid advances in computing. The drones we’re capable of building data are light-years ahead of those just ten years ago, thus ten years forward they will be light years ahead of what we see today.
‘Robots will invade our lives’ speech from MIT professor Rodney Brooks, the man who founded both iRobot and Rethink Robotics.
We had seen this video before, but were reminded of this by fresh news about two new unmanned helicopter drones being used to re-supply US military units:
A robotic helicopter has been quietly busy resupplying Marines on the battlefield and in remote locations in Afghanistan.
Truck re-supply convoys and their military escorts are frequently the target of improvised explosive devises and insurgent attacks; by replacing the traditional truck convoy, the unmanned K-MAX has already reduced the risk to U.S. forces by thousands of hours.
K-MAX’s airdrops provide a safe, low-cost supply delivery method to get important medical equipment and food to troops. On Dec. 17, 2011, K-MAX became the first unmanned helicopter to fly a resupply mission, delivering approximately 3,500 pounds of cargo to Afghanistan.
What’s next for K-MAX? Lockheed Martin has been charged to develop a “supervised autonomy” ability, which may let the aircraft land in wind, weather and brown-out conditions – even surpassing the capability of human pilots.
The company has dubbed this initiative OPTIMUS, as in Open-Architecture Planning and Trajectory Intelligence for Managing Unmanned Systems — not a reference to Transformer Optimus Prime.
OPTIMUS will give KMAX the ability to control itself while a human maintains supervisory control. This approach also has potential for giving other unmanned aircraft this capability and not just K-MAX.
In the civilian space, K-MAX also has a range of applications from helicopter logging and power line construction to ski-lift installations and even remote construction sites.
KMAX has enormous potential for emergency response missions too, ranging from firefighting and disaster relief to search and rescue.
There’s a lot more to come… and sooner than we can imagine according to Rodney Brooks. The KMAX promotional video:
Sometimes it feels like oil and gas exploration and production technology has come a long way. However, even after all of our advances, the recovery rate of oil & gas resources is on average just 35% according to Statoil of Norway. This means that 65% of the energy resource is on average left in the ground, because current technology can’t extract it.
Statoil’s new ‘permanent resource monitoring’ (PRM) technology hopes to boost recovery rates to 60%, nearly double the current world average. It shows how the supply of oil or gas is partly a function of technology, since the end of a field’s life is determined as the point that a field’s production is no longer economically feasible based on current technology.