WA company launches world’s first Ex-rated inspection robot

Friday, 27 August, 2021

WA company launches world’s first Ex-rated inspection robot

The world’s first, fully design-approved Ex-rated robotic camera inspection device — Magneto-EX — was officially unveiled in Perth last night.​

The brainchild of WA-based robotics firm Nexxis, the spider-like device with its magnetic feet is the first system to be developed that is suitable for use in hazardous area inspections.

Nexxis managing director Jason De Silveira says Magneto-EX is a game changer not only for the oil and gas sector, but any industry where there is a need for hazardous, confined space inspections.

“Whether it’s operating at heights, deep underground or in the presence of toxic chemicals, industrial worksites are dangerous places,” he said. “And confined spaces pose the biggest risk in terms of death or injury. Anything that can be done to keep humans out of these environments is a great step forward.

“Until now, robotic inspections haven’t been possible in confined and hazardous spaces due to the risk of ignition. But Magneto-EX changes all that. With its design approved, Ex-certification, our prototype can work safely and reliably in the most extreme conditions, alleviating the risk to human operators.”

Working in confined spaces is estimated to be 100 to 150 times more hazardous than operating on an open site. By their nature, confined spaces are not designed for people to work in, with poor ventilation allowing for hazardous atmospheres to quickly develop.

“With its stable navigation and seamless movement, Magneto-EX can place its feet in small gaps and on narrow beams, adapting its body configuration to navigate complex geometry and through narrow apertures," De Silveira said. “We’re confident Magneto-EX will not only save lives but will also dramatically reduce downtime costs at an industrywide level.”

Western Australia’s Minister for Innovation and ICT, Don Punch, congratulated Nexxis on the launch of Magneto-EX and said the State Government is a proud supporter of the Western Australian-based robotics firm.

“Nexxis’ Magneto-EX is a prime example of how Western Australia’s robotics sector is thriving and competing globally,” he said. “Innovation has an important role to play in growing and diversifying the state’s economy, and the Western Australian Government is committed to nurturing local innovators.”

WA Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken added: “Nexxis is a prime example of how innovative and technological expertise can be found right here in Western Australia. It’s fantastic to have a world leading robotics company based in WA and I look forward to seeing Magneto-EX make a real difference to safety levels in the resources sector and beyond.”

Magneto-EX has been developed with the financial assistance and industry support of NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) as well as CSIRO’s Data61 and SixDe. NERA’s CEO Miranda Taylor says it has been exciting to help Nexxis on its journey.

“NERA’s support of Nexxis dates back to 2018 when they were a team of just eight, and it’s been wonderful to have been able to provide that early support to them as they have grown,” she said. “We’re so excited about the Magneto-EX project, which we think can both help cut costs but more importantly save lives.

“The next step is for Nexxis to partner with some early adopters in industry and trial and refine the device, all leading to a commercially available version sometime next year.

“Nexxis is helping to position Australia as a world leader in automated robotic inspection research and manufacturing. They’re already exporting robotic parts to help with the clean-up at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Magneto-EX is a major step forward in safer inspections in the industry.”

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