Basic automation assist drillers by providing warnings or mitigating intermittent conditions such as stick/slip. Conceptually, advanced drilling automation would be capable of completely unsupervised well construction, needing no human intervention.
Even at lower levels, drilling automation solutions allow hands off operations but they still require the driller to constantly supervise the features and control the equipment to preserve safe operation. These features support the driller and some can be quite sophisticated—including automated pipe handling and scripted drill-a-stand solutions. However, these features are limited because they are simply reflexive mechanical responses.
More sophisticated drilling automation solutions deliver adaptive automated drilling in changing conditions. These solutions run with little or no supervision by the driller and manage multiple, sometimes conflicting, goals based upon standard operating procedures. When required, these solutions request driller intervention so the driller doesn’t have to be constantly engaged.