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General Electric Co. is testing autonomous drones and robotic “crawlers” to inspect refineries, factories, railroads and other industrial equipment, in the hope of capturing a larger slice of the $40 billion spent annually by companies on inspections.

In trials, aerial drones and robots are able to move around and inside remote or dangerous facilities, while photographing corrosion or taking temperature, vibration or gas readings that can be analyzed by computer algorithms and artificial intelligence.
GE is not the first to combine artificial intelligence with robots to inspect industrial facilities or processes. IBM Corp said it has been working on systems connected to its Watson artificial intelligence capability for about a year.