The robotic inspection device prototype that was used for testing.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center innovators have designed a Robotic Inspection System that is capable of surveying deep sea structures such as oil platform storage cells/tanks and pipelines in order to determine the volume of material remaining inside, interrogate structure integrity, and display real-time video and sonar. This inspection device and method could significantly reduce the cost of inspecting, and in the future, provide sampling of the structure contents. The technology is an all-in-one inspection device that includes cameras, sonar, and motion-sensing instruments with hardware and software components. This NASA-developed technology is available for licensing.

Generally, oil platforms are comprised of pipelines and/or subsea storage cells. These storage cells not only provide a stable base for the platform, but also provide intermediate storage and separation capability for oil. Surveying these structures to examine the contents is often required when the platforms are being decommissioned. The Robotic Inspection System provides a device and method for imaging the inside of the cells, which includes hardware and software components. The device is able to move through interconnected pipes, even making 90-degree turns with minimal power. The Robotic Inspection System is able to display 3-dimensional range data from 2-dimensional information. This inspection method and device could significantly reduce the cost of decommissioning cells. The device has the capability to map interior volume, interrogate integrity of cell fill lines, display real-time video and sonar, and with future development, possibly sample sediment or oil.

Potential applications include use in sub-sea oil and gas platform structures, deep sea exploration, and pipelines at least partially containing a fluid.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact Michelle P. Lewis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to initiate licensing discussions. Follow this link for more information: https://technology.nasa.gov/patent/TB2016/MSC-TOPS-70.