A company has laser-scanned an entire offshore rig with a drone for the first time, replacing human workers in a potentially hazardous task.
Texo Drone Survey and Inspection surveyed the Paragon HZ1 rig in the North Sea with its giant T28 Platform drone, currently grabbing visitors’ attention at the SPE Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) collected “phenomenal” amounts of information during a 32-minute human-controlled flight, mapping a million points per second. The Lidar (light radar) scan, which pulses laser light at structures and analyses their reflections, produced about 15GB of data during the brief reconnaissance.
“That’s highly-accurate information,” Texo Drone marketing manager Ryan Smith told Professional Engineering. The data was then processed into a point cloud image showing the entire rig with an accuracy of more than 2mm.
The survey company, which claims to own and operate “the world’s most comprehensive and dynamic fleet of UAVs” – including several others on show in Aberdeen – claims the scans are much more accurate than ground-based techniques. It says the drone Lidar can provide accurate information before decommissioning or extension projects or help analyse year-on-year structural changes.
“The idea is you would have an aerial scan done so you can overlay and easily see changes in the structure,” said Smith.
The technique also removes human risk, Texo Drone’s David Williams told PE. “It is a hazardous environment, people can die,” he said. “You are not getting the same risk when you put a UAV in there.”
The company believes the processes’ advantages could make it ubiquitous in future. It is also working on many other drone applications for offshore rigs, including winches, and future devices could include UAVs with “grab arms” or painting tools.
Others are also working on drone imaging of offshore rigs. Engineer and metrologist Danny McMahon leads a team at the University of Strathclyde's Advanced Forming Research Centre in Glasgow currently trialling photogrammetry scanning, which could help create 3D models of rigs.
Our reporter Joseph Flaig is at the SPE Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen this week. Contact him on email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Joseph_Flaig.
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