Danes to develop inspection drones

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 10 October 2019


A new project to develop an intelligent drone able to recognise more than 99% of the possible errors that may occur on ships when they undergo a Safety Inspection is underway in Denmark.

The objective of the Inspectrone project, which the Innovation Fund Denmark has just invested 11.8M Danish Krone in, is to develop an autonomous system that will use many different sensors both visual and physical – such as ultrasound – to provide consistent and regular inspection data. It is expected that the technology will ultimately be used in several different areas where inspection of closed, dangerous and other hard-to-access areas are required.

Drones intelligent

Ships must be inspected periodically for the purposes of classification and business operation. However, it is difficult to strike the right balance between regular inspections and inspection costs in order to prevent corrosion, serious damage or even catastrophic errors on the ships. Until now, attempts at drone inspection has required human pilots and specialists, and, opposite to the actual classification inspection, they have only been based on visual input. That task must now be taken over by intelligent drones, which will be much more precise and effective than people when it comes to inspecting ships.

One of the project parties, FORCE Technology, has performed drone-based inspections for a number of years. The company’s ultrasonic systems are among the world leaders for inspection use. With the help of Artificial Intelligence, the Technical University of Denmark will find defects in images, and via touch, technology can let drones test their surroundings.

Another of the parties to the project, Lloyd's Register, has long experience with regard to the structural integrity of ships and will therefore be able to ensure that the drone-based inspection delivers satisfactory results. Shipowner NORDEN will deliver the ships that the drones of the project will be trained and tested on.

The aim of the project is, thus, to create a user-friendly system that does not require expert users, and which can provide objective and accurate inspections on its own. “Our system contains human knowledge, but is, at the same time, more precise and objective. It will revolutionise ship inspections. The system is not costly and does not require an expert’s input, as simply pressing a button on a screen is required. The system can carry out regular inspections and provide vital information on the health status of ships. I am convinced that this technology will be able to give the Danish inspection and Danish shipping industry a leading position on the market.” said Evangelos Boukas, Assistant Professor at the Technical University of Denmark.

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