The data captured by the Intel Falcon 8+ will help to inform restoration planning for the Halberstadt Cathedral, built between 1236 and 1491 in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Intel in collaboration with experts from Bauhaus University Weimar and Kulturstiftung Sachsen-Anhalt, a foundation for the preservation of cultural monuments, is powering inspections and damage assessment of the cathedral with its advanced commercial drone technology.
Though the Halberstadt Cathedral was repaired in the decades after World War II, the historical structure has since deteriorated from environmental conditions. The imaging-based drone inspection is a non-invasive way to get at fragile, hard-to-reach structures—particularly important because of the delicate condition of the Gothic-style church and its artwork and is cost effective too.
“Advanced technology, like the Intel Falcon 8+ drone, provides enormous potential for structural monitoring,” said Norman Hallermann, a research associate on the faculty of civil engineering at Bauhaus University Weimar. “Working with Intel drone technology has allowed us to reach previously inaccessible spaces, like the cathedral’s bell towers.”
“The Intel Falcon 8+ drone is becoming an extension of the preservation team,” said Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager within Intel’s New Technology Group. “Intel is excited about the future of inspections being automated and analyzed using drones. We are thrilled to be part of this project to restore this iconic piece of history and to be able to contribute with our technology.”
Applications in industry
The drone technology applies to several branches of industrial and utility like communication towers, transmission lines, oil and gas refineries, airplane inspections and so forth.
For the indoor applications, the drone has to be flown manually. Work still needs to be done, to make it safe to let the drones fly inside autonomously—including recreating a positioning environment and improving indoor location technology. Drones use GPS technology for positioning, and indoors GPS capabilities go away.
Another industrial application is the use of drones to bring parts to an assembly line. As manufacturers find the need for more flexible operations, mobile robots are catching on in material handling and drones could be an important part of that mobility. Drones could also be used to track inventory in a vertical storage arrangement.
Potential ROI, now and future
Intel’s ROI analysis points to a 350 percent improvement in efficiencies, Nanduri said. That equates to considerable cost savings. Drones could also be equipped with infrared or thermal sensors to help detect structural integrity issues and could be particularly helpful in assessing damage of industrial assets.
“Each drone can collect about 1,200 images. But manually scanning them actually becomes much more tedious work that just looking at the structure in real life,” Nanduri explained. He spoke about Intel’s cloud-based platform to streamline data management. The application of drones whether in preserving cultural monuments or inspecting the integrity of an oil pipeline—is still relatively recent. “The potential of drones for making these safer, more efficient, more accurate and less expensive is where the promise of this technology is,” Nanduri said. “And is definitely the way of the future.”