We are delighted to share the outstanding achievement of the Clausthal University of Technology Drillbotics® Team, who emerged victorious in the 2022/2023 International Drillbotics® Group B (Physical Rig) Competition. The competition, organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers Drilling Systems Automation Technical Section (DSATS) and hosted this year by the University of Mons, Belgium, witnessed the team's exceptional performance and innovation in the field of autonomous lab-scale directional drilling rigs.
Led by student team members Charalampos Soilemezidis, Kanaan Al Maasarani, Ali Alkhawaja, and Farouk Jamali, the team was under the guidance of Wolfgang Hollstein and Erik Feldmann, and advisory support from Prof. Dr. Philip Jaeger, Dr. Carlos Paz, and Ramez Abdalla.
The TU Clausthal team's rig, which measures 2 x 1 x 3 meters, is capable of operating at speeds up to 3000 RPM and boasts a top rate of penetration of about 1.6mm per second in Sandstone. The rig has an integrated mechanical rotary steerable system (RSS) to enable steering capability in a 1.5" hole, reaching build-rates up to 4°/10cm. A distinctive feature of this rig is its decentralized control, which enables it to be managed from any location worldwide.
Amidst a competitive lineup, the rig garnered attention for its modularity, adaptability, and impressive performance. By integrating an advanced mechanical steerable system, algorithms, and sensors, their rig is able to respond to varying drilling conditions, ensuring optimal drilling speed and stability while executing a directional well.
Day 1: Rig Preparation and Travel
The team efficiently disassembled the rig at the university's digital drilling lab, benefiting from its modular design for easy transportation. Transported via a trailer, the rig safely arrived in Mons, Belgium, setting the stage for the competition.
Day 2: Setup, Calibration, and Testing
Rigging up and station setup was swift, followed by calibration and testing to ensure readiness for the upcoming competition.
Day 3: Competition Day (6th of July)
The competition day began with team presentations, followed by the drilling challenge. The team encountered minor issues with their automated algorithm, prompting them to shift to a semi-automated approach. Regardless, the rig demonstrated exceptional performance, achieving remarkable rates of penetration and steering of up to 4 degrees per 10 cm. The team's adaptability and ingenuity were clearly demonstrated as they adjusted the drilling process on demand, leading to a successful drilling of an S-curve trajectory given by four coordinates.
The competition culminated in interviews and a Q&A session with the judges, who lauded the teams for their efforts. The Clausthal team's impressive results led to their well-deserved Group B (Physical Rig) victory.
The team's victory signifies their pioneering contributions to drilling automation and robotics. It opens new opportunities for their careers and underlines the quality of education at Clausthal University of Technology. Notably, the winning team will collaborate with Group A winners (Virtual Rig) to craft a joint paper for presentation at the 2024 SPE/IADC International Drilling Conference and Exhibition in Galveston, Texas, until then stay tuned for more from the team at Celle Drilling 23, in Celle and at the SPE STC 23 in Clausthal!
The SPE TU Clausthal Student Chapter extends heartfelt congratulations to the victorious team for their remarkable achievement, serving as an inspiration to future engineers worldwide.
The team expresses gratitude to their partners, sponsors, and donors, including KCA Deutag, Baker Hughes, MICON-Drilling GmbH, ITE Engineering GmbH, Institute of Subsurface Energy Systems, TU Clausthal, and TU Clausthal SPE Student Chapter, for their invaluable support.
The team eagerly anticipates embracing industry support for their upcoming ventures in 2024, as they persistently try to enhance drilling automation and robotics, and they look forward to welcoming new team members onboard.