The vision of PRE is developing intelligent infrastructure to support oil and gas industry by providing improved operational efficiency and reduced costs. The rig performance depends on the driller capability, attention, and competency yet the driller is overloaded with many tasks and a lot of information. Drillers are challenged to efficiently make critical decisions in the face of more complex designs. To help drillers meet these challenges, they require an integrated, multi-user drilling environment to facilitate streamlined workflow practices, sound engineering and rapid decision-making. Advances in control and automation of the whole drilling and completion process will dramatically change the workload on the driller and increase improvements in safety, performance, quality, reliability, consistency, and interoperability. The ultimate objective of drilling automation, as with most upstream innovations, is to deliver financial benefits to the operator. Drilling automation seeks to accomplish this through process improvements, optimized rates of penetration (ROPs), consistent hole quality and overall drilling performance, all of which allow operators to reach their objectives in the shortest time.
The Autonomous Drilling System (ADS) concept is an effort to help oil industry to improve performance, reduces well costs, removes people from high-risk operations, and promotes general drilling safety. Autonomous means the system decides and takes actions relatively independence from an outside supervisor, which may be another engineering system or an operator. The degree of autonomy can be seen as an operating region defined by a set of parameters within which the system acts on its own in a safe manner toward the goal. The ADS is an integrated system of 3 primary elements, i.e. low-level controls, communications, and supervisory control. The technical challenge of ADS is moving the overall drilling systems automation from a low level of automation (currently level 2, human/computer monitoring for many operations) to a higher level of automation (level 9) to realize gains in productivity, efficiency, and safety (Macpherson et.al, 2013). The current challenge of creating an automated drilling system that is capable of drilling a well or section autonomously lies in the many uncertainties associated with making a hole deep in the Earth, i.e. deep-water drilling technology. Automating the drilling process hinges on not only availability and interoperability of computer-controlled machinery but also on information management, gathering the right information at the right time and coupling it with the experience necessary to make optimal decisions.
To prove the concept of ADS, a testing facility must be built. The Lab-Scale Autonomous Drilling System is a drilling simulator that represents the dynamic of BHA in a controlled environment so that the bit response may be observed. This facility is aimed to assist the development of autonomous layer detection and ROP optimization. The effect of interaction between drill string and wellbore, drill string and drilling fluid, and confined compressive stress on rock formation is also simulated in the simulator through computational model and hardware apparatus that lead to Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation (HILs).