Autonomous drone for performing safe, reliable, and cost-effective ultrasonic thickness measurements
● Performs measurements up to 100 m (330 ft) above ground level
● Over 30 separate site measures per hour, with all-day flight via ground power (no battery changes)
● Operable in winds up to 12 knots (14 mph)
● Configurable for wide temperature ranges and wall thicknesses
● Couplant applied automatically between readings
● Output includes real-time test results, customizable downloads and proprietary 3D map of test results/structure
● Requires only basic piloting skills (current US regulations require an FAA part 107 pilot license)
What is autonomous flight?
The pilot simply positions the aircraft near the inspection target and selects the START button on the user interface. The onboard computer then takes over, performing all flight control and testing before returning to a safe zone to await further instructions.
About Apellix Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Robotic Devices
Our aerial robotic system is a hardened custom drone equipped with an array of sensor systems, a full onboard computer, and custom software to allow automatic flight to contact wall structures for measurements. The aircraft includes an articulating robotic arm with an end effector, which is the component that physically contacts the material being tested. The end effector contains the inspection measurement equipment, such as a dry film thickness or ultrasonic thickness probe. It is important to note that inspection devices measuring readings are the same technology currently used in the industry; the aerial robotic system simply places the probe against the wall surface instead of a person.
The Feasibility of Ultrasonic (UT) Material Thickness Readings of an Aboveground Storage Tank Using an Aerial Robotic System (Drone)
Jamie Branch, Corrosion Engineer at Apellix
Working at heights taking UT readings can require scaffolding, cranes, or ropes. These methods create risk for the inspector collecting the readings. Using aerial robotic platforms can remove humans from harm’s way, what OSHA describes as “engineering the risk out and away.” This removes the risk of people falling by keeping them safe on the ground and the aerial platform with the UT measurement device in the air.