Dirty and dangerous, yes, but there’s nothing dull about the oil and gas industry. The Three Ds are more like danger, Will Robinson, danger – danger.

But the times they are a-changin’… What used to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world is now augmented by an iron roughneck, basically a massive wrench used to connect and disconnect long segments of drill pipe called tubulars. Now we see the emergence of autonomous mechatronic solutions. Rig up, rig down – robot on it.

Now watch this robotic pipe handler work in tandem with a modern roughneck. Today’s rig floor operations can be remotely controlled, removing rig personnel from the danger zone.

From roughneck, underwater, aerial and snake bots, to robotic processes that increase the service life of oilfield equipment, and even robotic gas stations, robots protect workers, improve process productivity and reduce costs. New use cases and new business models are emerging amid a transitioning energy landscape. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) still dominate as more renewables (wind, solar, biofuel) come online.

On the rig floor, an aging workforce and tough-to-fill jobs heighten the need for automation. The backlog of infrastructure needing repair and maintenance continues to grow. But the oil and gas industry is traditionally risk-averse and slow to adopt new technologies. Investment is often dictated by barrel prices. Still, opportunities exist for technologies that address these challenges with safer, more efficient solutions.