When you picture drones being used, you probably imagine them flying across an open field or scaling a building. You probably don’t think of a drone navigating narrow spaces, weaving in and out of cracks and crevices.
However, advances in drone technology mean we now have UAVs designed to traverse the tightest of spaces.
We’ve taken a look at the best drones for confined space inspections and why you should be using them.
Why use drones for confined space inspection?
A confined space inspection involves checking an asset that has limited or restricted means of entry/exit. This type of inspection is present in many industries, from oil & gas to construction & sewerage.
There are several reasons why drone use is preferable in confined space inspection compared to traditional methods:
1. Increased Safety
Sending a human to investigate a tight space brings with it a host of potential hazards. These range from exposure to toxic gas to practical dangers such as falling from heights or being struck by debris.
Drone use eliminates the need for a human worker to do the dirty work. Instead, they can fly the drone from a safe distance into the dangerous environment and collect the necessary data.
Even in situations where a worker must investigate, a drone can first ensure it is safe to enter.
Drones are incredibly versatile pieces of equipment. Their ability to move in three dimensions allows them to access almost any space at any angle.
When navigating difficult terrain, this provides a significant advantage compared to on the ground robots/humans. Hard to reach areas no longer pose the same logistical challenge.
On top of this, you can add various attachments to a drone for different inspection purposes. Whether it’s a standard-issue camera or something more specified, such as a thermal camera or sensor.
3. Reduced Costs
Utilising drones for confined space inspection can help reduce costs in many ways.
Perhaps the most significant expense savers are how drones can be used to reduce downtime. Drones can be launched quickly and are not very intrusive. As a result, you can find solutions faster, reducing how long it takes to investigate an asset.
Depending on the situation, operations may also be able to function as usual while the inspection is underway. Both scenarios are more cost-effective than traditional means of assessment.
During inspections, the versatility of drones also allows them to identify potential problems before they arise. This information allows for better decision making and a lower chance of unforeseen failures occurring.
What are the best drones for confined space inspections?
Now that you’ve been convinced of using drones for confined space inspections, you probably want to know what the best ones for the job are.
Our experts have come up with a list of the best drones for confined space inspections.
best confined space drone
First on our list is the ASIO 2. It’s made by Flybotix, who refer to it as ‘the complete indoor inspection drone solution’. When you take a look at the drone itself, you realise they might be onto something.
Flybotix recognises the GPS challenges faced during indoor inspections, such as receiving weak/no signal. To solve this problem, the ASIO 2 has GPS-free stabilisation. It carries more than a dozen sensors to measure its altitude and position 8000 times per second, making it perfectly stable even in the most complex situations.
The drone also has a few important features to avoid collisions. Its integrated control algorithms make it easier to fly in obstructed areas. Thus, making it more accessible for beginner pilots (although you can switch this mode off if you’re a more advanced pilot who wants full autonomy). It is also fitted with a lightweight, collision-proof cage to protect the drone’s propellers.
To help you spot the tiniest of details, it allows you to live stream directly from the 4K resolution, 12-megapixel camera. The camera itself sits on a gimbal system to ensure no area is out of sight. For those defects that the human eye can’t see, it features an infrared sensor.
The ASIO 2 is an excellent, all-around indoor inspection drone well worth considering.
Most Cost Effective
The Skydio 2 has great potential to be very effective for confined space inspection.
It functions well in GPS denied environments and has six 4K navigation cameras for obstacle avoidance. In addition, it can fly autonomously, following whatever object it’s set to target.
To ensure no angle is missed, it features a 3-axis gimbal camera with 13 points of dynamic range. Thanks to its 2.2 mile radius, you can inspect assets from a long range.
As with all the drones on this list, it can be controlled using a conventional remote. You can also control it using the ‘Skydio beacon’ – a slim controller that enables subject tracking and the ability to pilot the drone with a flick of the wrist.
The Skydio 2 is a beginner-friendly drone that has a wide range of applications.
One of the most popular drones for confined space inspection is the Elios 2, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s made by indoor drone inspection pioneers Flyability. They’ve listened to customer feedback and made the Elios 2 extremely intuitive and easy to use. It’s also robust and collision tolerant. As a result, it’s a great drone for pilots of all experience levels.
It’s fitted with an unobstructed 4K camera that can hover in place to spot sub-millimetre cracks. The built-in HD video live stream ensures you get an accurate picture of exactly what is going on. It provides a level of detail equivalent to what an inspector would get standing at arms length from an object.
For increased situational awareness, it produces an impressive 10K Lumen of light. The Elios 2 performs reliably in GPS denied environments, in dark, dusty and troubled airflows and beyond the line of sight. Thanks to its oblique lighting mode, the drone easily detects pits and cracks by casting shadows in all asperities.
The Elios 2 is an intuitive, reliable, and precise indoor inspection drone, however it is very limited by its flight time.
The use of drones in confined space inspections is a revolutionary proposition.
They allow for cheaper, more effective inspections to be carried out while reducing the potential risk to human life. In addition, their versatile nature allows you to capture incredible amounts of data with relative ease.
If you want to incorporate drones into your inspection operations, the list provided here is a great place to start. Please contact one of our experts here for further inquiries.