The jury of the ARGOS Challenge
A jury of four international experts and four Total employees was established to evaluate the teams during each competition, and also to monitor the progress of the projects over the course of the entire challenge. Its President is Alain Goulois, Senior Vice President R&D in Total Exploration & Production until 2014. We caught up with him to find out a bit more about the jury’s different tasks and about his idea of robotics applied to specific environments like the oil and gas industry.
What role does the jury play?
The jury has quite a complex role that is played out in several stages. Before the competition, the jury examines the technical files submitted by the teams. During the competition, its members must remain attentive and be able to analyze actions very quickly. It also participates to the preparation of the following competition. The difficulty lies in striking a balance between guiding the teams and making sure they follow the competition rules, and leaving them room for maneuver, which is essential to the emergence of new ideas and innovation.
Which aspects are you particularly attentive to?
The key objective of the ARGOS Challenge is to develop robots able to work in potentially explosive environments (ATEX). ATEX certification is now a priority and a prerequisite to any further assessment of the potential of robotics in the oil and gas industry.
What are the advantages of robotics applied to this type of industrial sector?
We cannot imagine all the opportunities robots might offer, but, for example, I believe they will enable us to identify and assess volumetric (3D fields) and surface (2D) information, such as a gas leak or an abnormal temperature, where humans and fixed sensors simply cannot (extreme cases, loss of power, etc). Robots are not meant to replace operators, but they will hopefully prove a great complement and enhance their ability to understand and control their industrial environment. Robots are meant to assist operators and enhance their ability to understand and control their industrial environment.
A few words about Alain Goulois…
Alain Goulois spent the entire 40 years of his career in the Energy sector, mostly in the Exploration and Production branch of the Total group. He joined the oil and gas business as a geomechanics specialist. He then held many different positions in the management of large industrial projects and in the development of advanced technology around the world. He retired as Senior Vice President R&D in Exploration & Production in late 2014.
“Robots are not just fashionable, they are a reality. The issue is to make the best use of the fantastic opportunities they have to offer.”