While the idea of pairing the mobility of a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) with the mapping method of photogrammetry is not particularly new, dwindling costs of drone technology have helped generate a renewed interest within the private sector. Engineering companies around the world are embracing UAV technology to redefine the way inspections, mapping, and surveying can be achieved. Elevating accuracy, cost efficiency, and operational workflows – UAVs are disrupting fields that range from wind turbine maintenance to potential terrorist threats. As companies like Tomahawk Robotics have helped establish UAVs as a formidable enterprise solution, this is an excellent opportunity to learn about the ways UAVs improve efficiency for energy and infrastructure industries.
Relying on traditional aircraft like planes and helicopters to gather aerial data is a costly investment. UAVs mitigate the need for licensed pilots, subsequent operational costs, and human error. Any operation necessitating the need for a drone is depending on the accurate and timely transmission of data. Drone sensors collect and synthesize data far more accurately and swiftly than their human counterparts, and in turn, generate digital renditions of their surroundings.
Aerial mapping represents the basic value UAVs bring to energy and infrastructure industries. Consequently, UAVs are designed with customization in mind. Considering the objectives and circumstances surrounding a given task, no two missions are alike. UAVs allow teams to tailor the device for specific photography and mapping needs. Traditional methods of 3D mapping simply do not offer the versatility of application and practicality of deployment of UAVs.
Oil Pipeline Inspections
The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that more than 3 million gallons of oil have spilled since 1986. The event of a pipeline leaking can lead to dangerous explosions that put people and facilitates at serious risk. UAVs can mitigate this risk by continually monitoring pipelines, increasing the likelihood that leaks can be anticipated and identified far sooner than traditional procedures would have allowed.
Hydroelectric Dam Inspections
There are over 90,000 dams in the United States alone, and they average in ages between 50 and 60 years old. Dam facilities are notoriously large and inspection is often time-consuming. Fulfilling its duty to tackle the “dull, dirty, and dangerous,” drones equipped with high-res cameras and sensors are the logical alternative to human inspection. Whether for scheduled maintenance or emergency inspections, the benefits that UAVs offer cannot be overlooked.
VicRoads, an agency overseeing roadways in Victoria, Australia, represents the early adoption of drones from a government body to address natural disasters. Utilizing UAVs with cameras that produce 3D imagery, VicRoads has unprecedented insight on how water draining can identify potential locations for landslides. With weekly data gathered by drones, changes in landscapes can be systematically and continuously monitored, greatly aiding in preventative measures.
One of the most commonly used wind turbines is the GE 1.5-megawatt model and it consists of 116-ft blades attached to a tower reaching over 200 feet. The result is a structure that is over 300 feet tall. As drones can be used to collect visual and thermal data from vantage points uniquely accessible to UAVs, the prospect of inspecting wind turbines has become a significantly less tall order. With a task of this stature, the need for an alternative to traditional methods is clear.
The popularity of drones in construction sites has skyrocketed in recent years. Through the lens of project management, safety, and inspection it is clear to see how real-time data is valuable for this industry. In fact, DroneDeploy, a drone-based surveying, and mapping company, estimates that the real-time data afforded by drones has resulted in savings of over 75% in operational costs.
Security and Surveillance
Geared towards ensuring safety and security for missions incorporating multi-domain unmanned systems, Tomahawk Robotics developed Kinesis. Offering solutions for enterprise-level clients, the Kinesis platform supports system monitoring, deep learning and data analytics, and software updates for workflows requiring a reliable IoT-scale control system. Learn more about how UAVs are improving the energy and infrastructure industries at tomahawkrobotics.com.