This week, DNV GL announced that it had completed its first drone survey. This most recent maritime application for drones demonstrates a growing interest in the technology that has, over the last year, seen applications emerging across merchant, naval and research fleets around the world.
The survey took place on the MV Apollo, a chemical tanker owned by Carl Büttner Shipmanagement in Germany. Two DNV GL surveyors used the drone survey to inspect 14 tanks over a period of two and a half days.
“The advantage of using a drone over conventional staging inside the tank is absolutely clear,” says Jochen Huhn, Marine Superintendent and Chief Security Officer, Carl Büttner Shipmanagement. “Eliminating the risk of damage to the coating from staging means the drone survey is worth it, even before we factor in the time saved by this method.”
In the future it may be possible to use drones that are fully autonomous. A 3D model of a vessel could be loaded into a drone’s memory, which could then orientate itself inside the tank and follow a pre-defined route, stopping at points of interest inside the compartment to capture video and still images.
At some stage it may be possible to have a drone with its own scanning capabilities. The drone could be dropped into an unknown space, make a scan, create its own 3D map and then proceed to carry out the survey independently.
Watch the drone survey being undertaken in-tank in this short video.