Asset inspection and beyond

It is no news that remotely piloted aircraft are revolutionising the way companies are undertaking periodic inspections on their critical assets. Gone are the days when people had to risk their lives approaching high-voltage power lines, climbing 100-meters high wind turbines or hanging on a bridge over dangerous waters, trying to locate missing bolts, cracks, water leaks and rust, while trying to balance risk factors and minimising safety hazards.

They can now be sit in the comfort of their offices, analysing every angle of their assets captured in high-resolution photos or videos capable of showing details as small as 1cm long (yes, you can read a part’s serial number in these photos if you want).

Scout Aerial is part of this revolution, delivering extremely detailed asset inspections, combining the benefits of aerial images, videos and 3D modelling, thanks to our:

  • State-of-the-art RPAS and specialised sensors (including LiDAR and thermal cameras), dual-screen visualisation and GNSS-based navigation;
  • Highly trained and certified RPA pilots;
  • Experienced 3D modelling and GIS specialists;
  • Powerful graphic processing servers.

We had the opportunity to partner with one of the main water supply and sewerage service providers operating in Queensland, in a project to inspect the main assets in one of its facilities: a water tower and a reservoir. Although located in a relatively small area, the inspected site required careful planning, due to unique characteristics:

  • The water tower contained several RF antennas and transmitters installed around its structure. They literally created an invisible shield around 20% of its structure, in which our aircraft could not operate;
  • Presence of a 30-meters high power transmission tower just beside the reservoir, that not only created a physical obstacle to lower flights but also was a potential source of electromagnetic interference for the communication channel between our ground stations and the aircraft;
  • Dense, high vegetation near both structures, creating additional obstacles to close flights.
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Bird’s eye view showing the assets to be inspected and all the challenges we faced

Risk assessments were thoroughly reviewed with the client. Flight grid paths and our own no-fly zones were defined to guarantee a safe operation. Imagery capture spots were planned to ensure enough proper coverage of all areas of interest in the inspection and allow for the 3D reconstruction. To counterbalance all obstacles affecting proper aerial coverage, our ground team also made sure to complement the captured dataset with enough photos from the ground.

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With the planning phase concluded, it was time to take off

Back to the office, time for some classifying over the inspection imagery before shipping the dataset to the client.

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Water tower and the communication antennas attached to it
asset_inspection_reservoir_closeup
Ladder structure attached to the reservoir

This was also the moment for heating up our graphic servers’ processors and reconstruct realistic 3D models of the two scoped structures using only photos as inputs. For those who love to do this, fun time!

The resulting 3D models will allow engineers working for our client to plan maintenance and improvements without leaving their desks:

asset_inspection_tower_3d_model
asset_inspection_reservoir_3d_model

Want to integrate aerial asset inspections in your operation? Contact us today and we will be more than happy to help you get the most out of this revolution.

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