Use Case: Aerial and Confined Space Drone Inspections

    DCS recently conducted an external and internal visual condition inspection of a 325-foot-tall stainless-steel stack.  The complex working environment for this visual condition assessment would be both challenging and hazardous for a human inspection, as the area of interest is located approximately 125 feet above ground level, requiring both Confined Space and Working at Heights entry for the internal inspection of the stack, and Working at Heights access for the external inspection.

    With an enterprise grade outdoor drone, we were able to capture high-resolution (4K) visual (RGB) inspection data consisting of both video and still images.  In order to conduct the confined space inspection, DCS deployed a specialized confined space inspection drone which captured high-resolution (4K) visual still images and video.  From this data, we were then able to construct a highly accurate 3D model of the internal structure of the stack.  

    The benefits of using visual (photogrammetry derived) 3D modelling to conduct a visual inspection are twofold.  Firstly, this process allows for the generation of a granular level of detail which is not available from a cursory visual inspection.  Secondly, the 3D model allows you to virtually inspect any area of interest on the 3D model as well as providing access all the original images used for the reconstruction.  You can zoom in specific images, pin and comment the images with detailed information or actions to take.  Annotated inspections can be saved for future reference.

    Benefits of aerial and confined space drone inspections:

    1. Increased Safety: They eliminate or reduce the risk to human life in hazardous or hard-to-reach areas like tall structures, bridges, or power lines.  Drones offer increased safety while working at heights or in confined spaces, as no humans are required to perform the visual inspection.
    2. Cost-Effective: Drones reduce the need for manual inspection/safety teams or heavy machinery and equipment such as scaffolding, cutting down costs significantly.  Asset downtime is also greatly reduced.
    3. Efficiency: Drones can cover large areas and access difficult to reach places quickly.  They provide real-time data, expediting inspection processes.
    4. Accuracy: High-resolution cameras and sensors on drones capture detailed images, enabling precise analysis of structures or landscapes.
    5. Accessibility: Drones can access areas that are difficult or dangerous for humans, such as rooftops, pipelines, or remote terrains.
    6. Environmental Impact: Compared to traditional methods like helicopters, manned aircraft, or large vehicles, drones have a smaller environmental footprint, reducing carbon emissions.
    7. Data Collection: They can gather various types of data, including visual and thermal imaging, LiDAR, or multispectral imaging, providing comprehensive insights.  Drone data can be used to create detailed 3D models of structures and assets.  
    8. Preventive Maintenance: Regular drone inspections enable early detection of potential issues, allowing for timely maintenance, preventing major problems, and avoiding asset downtime.  
    9. Documentation: Drones create detailed inspection records and reports, aiding in compliance, insurance claims, and historical tracking of changes or damages.  
    10. Versatility: They can be used in diverse industries such as construction, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, oil and gas, and public safety, among others, showcasing their versatility.


    In essence, drone inspections revolutionize traditional inspection methods, offering safer, faster, and more cost-effective solutions while providing comprehensive and accurate data.



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