The commission said Shell was leading a consortium of 10 energy companies to work on the so-called Petrobot project. It envisions the development of robots that will inspect pressurized vessels and storage tanks used in the oil and natural gas sector.
The commission said most inspections require plant closures when they employ humans. "This long and costly procedure could soon be reduced thanks to robotic technology, thus reducing the exposure of personnel to potentially hazardous conditions," the commission explained.
The European Union said it would contribute more than half of the $8.1 million needed to finance the project.
"The Petrobot project illustrates our will to transfer cutting edge results from research to the market, opening up new markets for EU businesses and creating new jobs in Europe," European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said in a statement.
The commission said European and business partners would work on Petrobot development during the next three years.
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