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Lighter than air unmanned aerial vehicle for inspection

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000247719D
Publication Date: 2016-Sep-29
Document File: 2 page(s) / 34K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Currently, inspections of tanks and other enclosed spaces commonly require personnel entry. Recently, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, equipped with cameras and sensors have been used to inspect both onshore and offshore tanks. Overwhelmingly, these drones use rotors to keep the vehicle airborne. However, this method has drawbacks such as payload capacity and battery life. In the case of in-tank inspection, it can be challenging to hold one position for enhanced inspection techniques such as non-destructive evaluation (NDE) or 3D surface mapping.

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Lighter than air unmanned aerial vehicle for inspection

Abstract

Currently, inspections of tanks and other enclosed spaces commonly require personnel entry. Recently, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, equipped with cameras and sensors have been used to inspect both onshore and offshore tanks. Overwhelmingly, these drones use rotors to keep the vehicle airborne. However, this method has drawbacks such as payload capacity and battery life. In the case of in-tank inspection, it can be challenging to hold one position for enhanced inspection techniques such as non-destructive evaluation (NDE) or 3D surface mapping.

Description

One solution is to make a lighter than air drone for inspection. The drone will have a large balloon filled with a lighter than air gas, such as helium, to keep it afloat. To maneuver, the vehicle could be steered and propelled with thrusters. The control of the vehicle could either be autonomous or with a human pilot. An autonomous system would require a system of sensors and control algorithms to ensure safe and effective operation of the vehicle.

Once airborne, this inspection drone can behave similarly to underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). ROVs are typically tethered, so they have enhanced capabilities like more power and higher data transmission rates. The lighter than air drone could operate either tethered or untethered. The untethered embodiment would be particularly advantageous for maneuverability and accessibility.

The lighter than...