SK innovation uses Spot and Guardian S intelligent robots for factory safety check

By Lim Chang-won Posted : October 20, 2022, 13:11 Updated : October 20, 2022, 13:11

[Courtesy of SK innovation]

SEOUL -- SK innovation, an intermediate holding company of SK Group, introduced two intelligent robots, Spot and Guardian S, which move like dogs and snakes, to check the safety of facilities at its main production complex that requires close safety management because of a complicated web of pipelines on 8.26 million square meters of land in the southeastern industrial port city of Ulsan.

Spot is a four-legged robot developed by Boston Dynamics acquired by South Korea's Hyundai auto group. Guardian S, developed by U.S. robotics company Sarcos, is a versatile snake robot capable of traversing challenging terrain to inspect industrial facilities and hazardous environments.
SK innovation (SKI) said that the two robots equipped with cameras and sensors would monitor the area that is difficult for humans to enter, such as gaps between pipes, or check safety conditions such as gas leakage. "With the introduction of two intelligent robots, the Ulsan complex will be reborn as a more advanced and safe workplace," Seo Kwan-hee, head of a technology innovation team at  SKI's oil refinery subsidiary, SK energy, said in a statement on October 20.

SKI has deployed Spot to the Ulsan complex for process-specific learning. The robot capable of physical tasks such as catching or moving objects as well as visual hearing and cognitive abilities can run for about 90 minutes on a single charge and automatically charge by recognizing its remaining battery capacity. Guardian S will be put into actual work after function stabilization. It can crawl in an S shape and easily climb up and down metal walls using magnetism.

Along with their routine mission to check the safety status of facilities such as temperature and gas leakage, SKI said that the two robots would measure noise and vibration. By upgrading functions, they will be used for initial fire suppression and 3D scanning. The company operates oil refining and other factories in Ulsan.

Four-legged robots and others that mimic the movements of animal body parts are being developed by global robot makers and tech companies for their versatility. Based on Spot, the Hyundai auto group has revealed a leg-wheel robot called TIGER (transforming intelligent ground excursion robot) that can navigate through challenging terrain using a sophisticated leg and wheel locomotion system and various sensors.

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