Hadek customized Vertex drone for inspection of industrial chimneys
In cooperation with Hadek, experts on power plant chimney and ductwork protection, we build a new special purpose drone, designed to fly autonomously making the inspection of industrial chimneys faster, more efficient, and safer.
Traditionally the inspection of chimneys takes a long time as scaffolding needs to be build up over a couple of days. Also, it means a lot of man hours that could be put to better use. In addition, physically inspection is not without risks. Hadek’s team approached us with the request to come up with a solution to make the inspection of industrial chimneys more efficient, faster and safer by using a drone.
Our teams started in 2018 with customizing our Vertex flying platform adding a sophisticated camera module and localization based on lidar, barometer and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). Following the implementation of the lidar sensor to the Vertex, we adjusted the control software to allow the drone to fly autonomously. This is particularly important in the inspection of chimneys because the drone needs to keep a safe distance to the wall of chimney and constant allowing it at a certain distance to allow it to take the best pictures and secure reliable data.
The special and harsh conditions inside chimneys demanded a different design of the flying platform and in 2019 the first Vertex was developed.
We have selected and implemented a camera module with remote control allowing Hadek to have a live camera feed. Next step was to establish communication between the camera module and a ground station, which also serves as a remote control, through a wireless link. The position of the drone is constant registered as this was a requirement from the Hadek as it easier to detect markers in the chimney wall for future reference. As such the drone can be directed to a specific location in the chimney for a closer or more thorough inspections and to take pictures on that location without having to perform a full automated inspection.
After the successful design and integration we’ve come up with a Chimney Inspection Drone that complies with Hadek’s request, fast and safe in use and can be used under all kind of circumstances
- Size: 940*940*325 (LxWxH) including props
- Chimney diameters up to 20 meters
- Chimney heights up to 250 meters
- Automated inspection speed 0,5 m/s
- Manual and auto photo mode
- Flight time up to 30 to 40 minutes
- 20-megapixel camera with autofocus
- Flashlight brightness of ±2000 lumen
- Compact design (foldable)
- Live video feed on the remote control
By adding a camera module and localization based on Lidar, barometer and special software IMU this drone, compared to a traditional Vertex, is more robust, larger in format and is heavier equipped. There’s wireless communication between the camera module and a ground station, so it’s possible to establish a live-stream ad use it by remote control. We added a Graphical User Interface (GUI), making the experience of working with our Vertex drone easy and very pleasure in use.
“Doing inspections of industrial assets such as chimneys is a costly business as any disruption in operations means extensive downtime for our clients. With the Chimney Inspection Drone based on the Vertex we can carry out inspections faster, more frequently and gather vital information in a short amount of time.”, Erik Palmen, Senior Supervisor at Hadek Protective Systems.