Yale Startup Hopes to Deploy Pipe-Inspecting Robots

Big changes are on the way in the petroleum industry. Soon, a new player will help detect pipeline corrosion: robots. Dianna Liu, a former Exxon-Mobil worker and now Yale School of Management student, founded the company ARIX with recent Yale graduates Petter Wehlin ’17 and Bryan Duerfeldt ’17 to explore how robotics and predictive analytics technology could be tapped for the petroleum industry.

“Like any large company that deals with operations…[the petroleum industry] is very dangerous, and they prioritize safety,” said Liu. However, limited technology exists to ensure the safety of workers searching for corrosion in the pipelines that carry petroleum. Liu, who previously interned in a biomedical company, was inspired by how technology has improved the quality of medicine, and was wanted to apply technology to the petroleum industry as well.

Her idea was a promising solution that holds potential in tackling a $5.4 billion dollar corrosion issue within the U.S. oil and gas industry: robots that could quickly replace costly and dangerous inspection processes by human workers in petroleum plants. Furthermore, ARIX’s robot inspection technology can quickly provide more comprehensive data in inspecting pipeline corrosion.

ARIX has received much attention since its founding. The prototype technology received the $25,000 Miller Prize from the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, and has gained recognition from companies and investors. While still in its early developing stages, ARIX has already caught the interest of the petroleum industry. For now, ARIX will continue focusing on fine-tuning the technology, and in the long run, will potentially look to apply the technology to other industries beyond gas and oil.