A fatal 2017 accident on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig prompted a deepwater drilling contractor to find technology to improve safety on its own drill rigs. The result, Vision IQ, monitors human and equipment movement on a rig’s red zone and alerts operators when it spots dangerous situations.

The red zone of an oil rig’s drill floor can be particularly hazardous since humans share the space with heavy equipment. Keeping watch over all the movement in the red zone can be a task beyond the ability of even several pairs of human eyes. Seadrill, an international offshore drilling company, partnered with the Marsden Group to develop Vision IQ, a system that uses lidar and artificial intelligence to observe red zone activities and alert the driller when it senses a dangerous situation.

Seadrill's new Vision IQ system. Source: Lida/SeadrillSeadrill's new Vision IQ system. Source: Lida/Seadrill

Lidar (light detection and ranging) is a remote sensing method that uses a pulsed laser to measure distances. A sensor measures the reflected laser light and uses the information to determine distance and 3D shapes of the objects being measured.

Vision IQ uses lidar to sense the presence of objects — humans and equipment — on the drill floor. Artificial intelligence identifies these objects and their precise locations as they move and can predict potential collisions. These predictions allow safety monitors enough time to intervene and prevent accidents before they happen. The system records activity, and playback is available immediately.

Marsden and Seadrill have tested Vision IQ extensively on both the drill floor and in crane operations. Seadrill has installed Vision IQ on two Gulf of Mexico drillships and will roll it out to 12 additional drillships over the next 12 months, pending regulatory approval.

Marsden foresees applications for Vision IQ in multiple industrial situations, such as factory floors.