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Meet Elios, The Industrial Drone for Ship Surveys Inspired by Insects

Flyability's Elios

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Meet Elios, The Industrial Drone for Ship Surveys Inspired by Insects

Designed to fly in tight and complex places, the drone Elios, from the Swiss company Flyability, has a shell carbon fiber inspired by insects, which allows it to absorb shocks.

Shocks, loss of signal, delicate maneuvers …. flying a drone in confined and complex spaces requires many challenges. In order to be able to inspect the most inaccessible places, such as industrial chimneys or chemical tanks, the Swiss company Flyability has equipped its Elios drone with a light bio-inspired carbon fiber protection, able to absorb the shocks at a speed of 15 km / h maximum.

Spherical in shape, and with a diameter of 400 mm, frame that encompasses the drone allows it to bounce and roll on the walls, absorbing shocks, then continuing on its way. The unique design mimics the ability of insects to keep their stability after in-flight collisions. This solves the biggest challenges of flying drones indoors in tight spaces and provides a level of reliability to Flyability’s customers who require drones that will operate in environments where failure is not an option.

The Flyability Elios is part of the inspection arsenal at the disposal of the survey team of Poland’s maritime risk management company DNV GL. Cezary Galinski, Senior Principal Surveyor and Head of the DNV GL drone squad, told Marine Link yesterday that using drones for inspection is integral to a cost-efficient procedure.

“When we started out, we wanted to find a safer, more efficient and cheaper way of fulfilling the requirements of close-up surveys. During these inspections, a surveyor has to be able to touch a surface to check the condition of the material,” he explained.

Headquartered in Gdynia, Poland, the company has a global presence with offices also in Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore and Houston. Drone inspection is becoming an increasingly important part of their day-to-day operations. “Instead of taking the surveyor to the component, we bring the component to the surveyor, on 4k, high-definition video,” explains Galinski. “So far the team has conducted more than 25 drone production surveys around the world. Typical ships include tankers, bulkers and, more recently, semi-submersibles and jack-ups. “These are the vessel types that require close-up surveys.”

The drone also carries two cameras, HD and thermal, and has a rotating lighting system, variable intensity, allowing it to film in the darkest recesses. The thermal camera offers a viewing angle of 42 ° vertically and 56 ° horizontally. The recorded images are stored on board, in an SD card, but also transferred to the driver, at lower resolution.

The Elios wireless communication system provides the pilot with live video feedback, even out of sight, hundreds of meters away. Based on the 2.4 GHz frequency, which does not require any special authorization to operate, the drone can fly more than 100 meters from its base and the pilot in an enclosed area. Even in metallic environments, says the company. Depending on the situation, the signal is provided up to 150 meters in an industrial chimney, up to ten meters in a metal compartment, beyond 150 m in a tunnel winding slightly, and cross several rooms in a standard building.

Resistant to water and dust, Elios operates in temperatures ranging between 0 ° C and 50 ° C. It is designed to fly on average 10 minutes – sufficient time to make a first recognition of most infrastructure, according to Flyability. After a quick battery change, it is then ready to program the next flight to continue the inspection or begin another.

Flyability will be demonstrating Elios at next month’s Control Exhibition for international quality assurance 2018 in Stuttgart.

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