A look inside the human brain leads to developing and enhancing drilling automation

Posted on 07 March 2012

By Joanne Liou, editorial coordinator

Understanding the thought process that drillers go through is shaping the future of human-centered drilling automation. The fundamentals of science and knowing how specific parts of the brain function, complemented by real-time computers, give the driller additional awareness and means to perform, Bertrand du Castel, a fellow at Schlumberger, explained. “Our industry is at exactly the stage (where) we have very experienced, smart, effective people who are going to be the driver of the drilling process for many decades to come,” he said. “What we have to understand is the association of the driller and the computer.”

Bertrand du Castel, a fellow at Schlumberger, explained how understanding the thought process of the driller’s brain can help develop human-centered automation, at a workshop on 5 March aimed at advancing automation in well construction.

Bertrand du Castel, a fellow at Schlumberger, explained how understanding the thought process of the driller’s brain can help develop human-centered automation, at a workshop on 5 March aimed at advancing automation in well construction.

His comments were made at a special drilling automation workshop jointly held by the IADC Advanced Rig Technology Committee and the SPE Drilling Systems Automation Technical Section on 5 March in San Diego, Calif., preceding the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference.
Deciphering the different parts of the brain utilized in a driller’s thought process, Mr du Castel pointed to the eyes as the visual cortex where the process begins, followed by the hypothalamus, which evaluates the situation. The motor cortex translates the thought into action, and the inferior temporal cortex follows the manipulation of objects. The process is then topped with a higher level of thought process in the prefrontal cortex.

The brain works in two stages: instinctive and contextual. Event processing is split between an immediate, instinctive reaction and a slower, contextual reaction, Mr du Castel said. The challenge is to find the connection between how drillers think through the process and how computers can supplement that process. “What we are trying to do is not to substitute the driller,” he stated, “but with computers and today’s technology, can we help the driller in such a way that we are always – in the combination of the driller and the computer – a system of alertness, which is fitting the needs of our industry?”

Focusing on four fundamental signals – block position, hookload, standpipe pressure and torque – Mr du Castel described how computers, given the derivatives and capability to identify patterns, are able to go through the process of a driller’s brain to interpret and react to situations. “A computer can see (slips) just like the brain can,” he said. “Without knowing about drilling but knowing a lot about patterns, computers can identify objects of interest.”

The fully automated processing of drilling surface data, combined with neuroscience principles, set the scene for automatic detection of adverse events based on a situation’s context, Mr du Castel explained. “Now we can specifically build layer upon layer of automation and hope that our work will be rewarded.”

Leave a Reply

*

FEATURED MICROSITES


Recent Drilling News

  • 27 March 2015

    Gravity-deployed carbon composite cable completes first commercial deployment offshore Norway

    Ziebel, a Stavanger-based provider of specialist well intervention services for the oil and gas industry, announced that its Z-Line gravity-deployed...

  • 27 March 2015

    Petronas’ INSTEP training institute plans improvements for integrated, experiential learning

    Institut Teknologi PETRONAS (INSTEP) takes realism seriously when it comes to experiential learning – seriously enough to be planning...

  • 26 March 2015

    Wood Mackenzie: Falling costs to soften blow of slashed exploration budgets

    Exploration budget cuts in 2015 will average 30%, but that will be matched by an approximately equal fall in exploration costs...

  • 25 March 2015

    C&J Energy Services merges with Nabors’ completion/production services

    C&J Energy Services, (C&J) and Nabors Industries (Nabors) announced the completion of the combination of C&J with Nabors’ completion...

  • 25 March 2015

    Douglas-Westwood: Oilfield services expenditure to decline by 30% in 2015

    Global oilfield services (OFS) markets are facing difficult headwinds as a function of commodity prices...

  • Read more news