"Robotic Drilling Systems AS, a Norwegian company developing a drilling rig that can think for itself, signed an information-sharing agreement with NASA to discover what it might learn from the rover Curiosity."
Oil and gas industry requires a significant amount of human resources to preform a multitude of tasks. A significant number of them are dangerous in execution or are in hazardous environments. Robotics is slowly making its way into this sector. Read further details at Bloomberg here.
"Apache, the third-largest U.S. independent oil and natural- gas producer by market value, is writing software that will essentially allow the drill bit to think for itself, communicating directly with equipment at the surface that controls speed and direction.
Graham Brander, the company’s director of worldwide drilling, sees it working much like a plane on autopilot, flying on its own with a human on standby, ready to assume the controls if necessary.
“That’s what I view very much as the automation model for the oil and gas business,” he says."
Here is a blog providing an extrapolation for the future of oil rigs, including 2,000 meter deep underwater cities.
Satellites with nuclear reactors have been functioning successfully in space for close on 40 years, to today a small multi-terrain vehicle of sorts is moving around on a distant planet, to applications of MEMS that quite honestly amaze me at times. It is not too far off to see the future Apache is envisioning and creating.