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AI Case Study

ExxonMobil plans to automate hydrocarbon discovery by developing deepwater exploration robots in partnership with MIT

ExxonMobil is working with MIT to develop autonomous underwater robots which will be able to explore deep ocean floors detecting hydrocarbons for exploitation while minimising environmental damage.



Oil And Gas

Project Overview

From ExxonMobil: "The immediate application of this technology would be to monitor the oceans, mapping deep regions while analyzing how they change over time and gauging their health. Slow moving and quiet, these robots navigate many feet above the ocean floor. Thus, they can help safeguard the ecosystems, as well as detect and analyze naturally seeping hydrocarbons, which could be an indicator for where best to find energy resources. Our goal is to have these submersibles embody the reasoning of the scientists that program them... You want the explorer to do the science without the scientist there. They need to be able to analyze data, keep themselves out of harm’s way and determine novel solutions in novel situations that go beyond basic mission programming. They need to have some common sense and the ability to learn from their mistakes.”

Reported Results

Planned; results not yet available


Details undisclosed


R And D

Core Research And Development


From Engineering360: "Scientists that helped design artificial-intelligence software that makes NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover 'curious' are developing similar applications for self-learning, submersible robots used in ocean exploration."



Details undisclosed

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