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Here comes the droids

Automated and autonomous vehicles are coming, but robot roughnecks are further out

Beyond expanded adoption of automated-software solutions, several kinds of physical robots will make a more visible appearance in the oil patch in 2018. Although oil and gas is one of the more "traditional" industries of the economy, this makes it a sector ripe for technology disruption. Furthermore, given the relatively dangerous nature of some work in oil and gas—at the wellhead, in maintenance roles and at refineries—robots are likely to replace humans in a number of these more dangerous jobs over time. In general, several robotic and automation developments are likely to accelerate for oil and gas in 2018: industrial drone use will spread; the deployment of automated subsea maintenance

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