Sky-Futures and TU Delft University to collaborate on improving corrosion measurement by drone

Research and development facilities at Sky-Futures
Research and development facilities at Sky-Futures

Sky-Futures, the world leading drone inspection specialists for oil and gas, has announced they are funding a project with Dutch University, TU Delft to develop technology that will allow drones to accurately measure defects on structures through drone sensor technology and display the data collected.

Sky-Futures technology team, led by CTO Adrian Karl, already uses sophisticated software to automate the analysis of the data its drones gather, helping to identify potential problems in a rig and provide accurate corrosion forecasts. Clients access imagery and analysis through a cloud-hosted portal, together with expert input from Sky-Futures’ experienced engineers.

Drones cannot currently fly close enough to structures such as offshore oil rigs under Sky-Futures operating procedures in order to physically measure defects with sensory drone technology. The project aims to overcome this by developing safe and effective drone sensors and accompanying data processing and display software that can take accurate measurements of hard to access infrastructure. Crucially, such a development will allow the measurement of defects such as cracks and the corrosion of structures over time from repeatable data gathered by drone. This will allow Sky-Futures oil and gas clients to make more accurate condition forecasts, in turn improving their planning of inspection and maintenance schedules.

The project team from TU Delft have previously worked on innovative solutions for the commercial drone industry, including the ‘Ambulance Drone’ concept, which gained 6.3 million+ views on Youtube.

Sky-Futures currently use drones in order to gather HD still, video and thermal imagery as well as gas data of structures traditionally accessed by rope climbers. Inspections by drone increase the safety of inspection work, save time and increase the cost effectiveness. For example, inspections can take place of underdeck structures offshore without the need for rope climbing teams and the accompanying support vessels. Such inspections can translate to savings over an inspection year within the industry of 11% compared with rope access use alone. Currently such inspections still require rope climbers in order to further investigate anomalies, meaning the risk to personnel remains and it difficult to gather easily repeatable data over time.

Adrian Karl, Sky-Futures CTO, said;
“Additional sensor payload technology would allow cracks as well as the thickness and integrity of structures, such as pipework under a rig to be physically measured and, crucially, monitored. Developing sensors and software that can collect measurements from the structure itself in ways that humans could not before will change the way in which our clients assets are managed and revolutionise the way in which drones can improve inspections.”

James Harrison, Sky-Futures Co-founder and CEO, said;
“We’re excited to work with TU Delft to develop solutions which enhance our current data capture and analysis platform in order to provide our clients with increasingly valuable and actionable data. We’re working on automating the entire analysis process using algorithms to provide a high degree of confidence to engineers. This will enable more efficient operations, planning and maintenance of the infrastructure.”

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