Autonomous drone inspections move step closer after successful test

AN autonomous drone inspection has successfully taken place aboard a 19

29 June 2020 - 19:00

AN autonomous drone inspection has successfully taken place aboard a 19.4 metre high oil tank onboard a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel, reported London's Digital Ship.

The video shot by the drone was interpreted in real-time by an algorithm to detect cracks in the structure. said the report.

Scout Drone Inspection and classification society DNV GL have been working together to develop an autonomous drone system to overcome the common challenges of tank inspections.

For the customer, costs can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars as the tank is taken out of service for days to ventilate and construct scaffolding. The tanks are also tough work environments, with surveyors often having to climb or raft into hard-to-reach corners.

Using a drone in combination with an algorithm to gather and analyse video footage can significantly reduce survey times and staging costs, while at the same time improving surveyor safety, said the report.

The drone, developed by Scout Drone Inspection, uses LiDAR to navigate inside the tank as GPS-reception is not available in the enclosed space. A LiDAR creates a 3-D map of the tank and all images and video is accurately geo-tagged with position data.

During the test, the drone was controlled by a pilot using the drone's flight assistance functions, but as the technology matures it will be able to navigate more and more autonomously, said the report.

'We've been working with drone surveys since 2015,' said Geir Fuglerud, director of Offshore Classification at DNV GL - Maritime. 'This latest test showcases the next step in automation, using AI to analyse live video.

'As class society we are always working to take advantage of advances in technology to make our surveys more efficient and safer for surveyors, delivering the same quality while minimising our operational downtime for our customers,' said Mr Fuglerud.

Said Scout Drone Inspection CEO Nicolai Husteli: 'This is another important step towards autonomous drone inspections. Up until now the process has been completely analogue but technology can address the urgent need to make the process more efficient and safer.'

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