Automated flying robots

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Robotic inspection and measurement systems have great potential for performing tasks safely, better, and faster than humans explains Robert Dahlstrom, CEO Apellix. Of specific interest in drydocks are aerial robotic systems for contact-based measurements and inspections as they are, quick, agile, versatile, and safer than putting workers at risk due to the height of installations.

The robotic measurement technologies with the highest potential for use in drydocks are the ones that fly and physically make contact with a surface, such as the hull of a ship, to gather data. Maritime assets are not box-shaped structures. Ships for example, are complex geometries that are optimised to reduce drag co efficiencies. These ‘flowing lines’ make robotic maintenance, inspection and measurement, challenging. However, one of the great advantages of aerial robotics is that they can adapt – they can easily conform to non-linear surfaces, while other robotic, or other techniques, have a long adaptation curve.

Enhancing productivity and improving efficiency
Aerial robotic systems can dramatically reduce non-destructive testing and evaluation (NDT&E) costs without reducing quality or capability. They allow delegation of the dirty, dull, and dangerous part of Non-destructive Testing (NDT), the data collection, to the robot. The two most common uses of NDT in drydock are measuring the thickness of the ship’s hull (Ultrasonic Thickness, UT/UTT), and the thickness of the coatings/paint (dry film thickness, DFT). Completing these measurements with a robotic system frees the examiner, or corrosion engineer, to focus on high-value tasks, allowing work flexibility and enhancing productivity. Shipyards and drydocks continually demand increased productivity, cost reduction, fast throughput, and process optimisation to stay competitive. Aerial robotic systems can achieve this easily.

Read more about this application and others in the latest issue of DryDock magazine

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