Development of a Drone-Robot Hybrid System for Power/ Process/ Industrial Plant Inspection
The mere size of power plant boilers and HRSGs, burners, ducting etc. means that visually examining various parts needs time taking and costly scaffolding and hazardous climbing. Some preliminary investigations on the use of commercial drones, with basic modifications for safe operation, are now being considered by a few individual utilities and process plants. Similarly, the use of small robots that can climb up the industrial structures, crawl and creep along the power plant boiler, turbine or other auxiliary parts can save cost and money and have been tried with limited success, as these are slow to climb large structures and surfaces with gaps in-between or soot deposits etc. are not suitable for climbing.
ETD has put together a team of experts which has just completed an Exploratory Phase Project on the feasibility of combining the two systems and creating an hybrid Drone-Robot system that can visually inspect an industrial structure for damage or heat loss etc. and carry out closer operations such as surface cleaning followed by wall thickness measurement, crack detection and sizing etc.