“Eyes in the Sky” Technology for Rapid, Safe and Repeatable Inspections

Published Mar 22, 2016
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Lloyd’s Register’s first phase of its guidance notes for drones and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has been launched, giving operators in the energy and marine industries confidence in using UAS for offshore, marine and onshore surveys and in-service inspections.

“We are developing these guidance notes to provide a consistent approach to risk in UAS and drone deployment, offering practical operational considerations relating to regulations, personnel, quality, safety, hardware, software and operations,” says Lloyd’s Register’s Chief Technology Officer, Nial McCollam.

McCollam highlights: “Technology and innovation in the area of digital data, sensing technologies, unmanned systems and robotics are here to stay. We see an exciting and important journey ahead, and anticipate our efforts to increase and continue.”

UAS, commonly known as drones, provide an effective alternative to traditional methods of in-service operational assessment and survey, especially structures and assets at significant heights, difficult to access locations and hazardous environments.

Major operators such as Shell and Maersk Drilling are among early adopters of innovative technology with safety and quality as a priority.

“Shell views human and environmental safety as paramount in all of its operations. The use of robotic technology for inspection purposes reduces the need for personnel working in enclosed spaces and at heights. Minimising risk across the industry by utilising cutting edge technology in this way is of great importance to Shell,” says Adri Postema, General Manager of Shell Shipping and Maritime, Technology.

To unlock this potential, collaboration among industry partners throughout the value chain will be critical. In collaboration with Lloyd’s Register, Maersk Drilling and partners have conducted a number of pilots to assess UAS capabilities for inspection at heights and difficult areas.

“We can see the technology has many potential applications, and it has triggered ideas on new applications. One area we want to focus on is the safety aspect of this new technology, and how we integrate it with existing safety processes, and ensure we use it to enhance safety, and to limit the introduction of new risks. It only takes one or two accidents or near miss reports to set a bad record for robotics and unmanned systems in the industry, so the guidance notes will help the industry take into consideration important considerations,” says Jan Holm, Managing Director of Maersk Drilling Singapore.

The guidance notes from Lloyd’s Register will be updated regularly to provide industry with the latest practical information on issues such as how best to use UAS for inspection in confined spaces which is particularly relevant in energy and marine applications where Class surveys are needed, and which also improves safety for human life.

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