Offshore maintenance drones
Aerial drones are increasing in applicability, and are already used for structural inspections of offshore platforms and wind farms.[1,2,3] Their integration and modularization with more advanced tools will allow them to perform increasingly sophisticated maintenance and repair jobs in difficult-to-reach places. Robotic maintenance by drones will reduce costs, increase safety, and enhance servicing efforts.
The drones and robotics market is undergoing tremendous growth, with an estimated market forecast to reach $81.4bn by 2022. In the next 3 to 5 years, the oil and gas industry is planning to double its investment portfolio in drones and robotics, from 15% to 28%. Drones are already incorporating light-weight components, such as radars, cameras, magnetometers, as well as instruments that measure light penetration, wind, and temperature.
In order to perform routine maintenance and repair tasks, drones will need to be combined with heavier tools, such as cutting arms, precision grinders, manipulators, and/or welding equipment. Accommodating for the weight and providing the required power for tools onto aerial drones remains a challenge for their application.
When will it become accepted practice that drones will be maintaining and repairing offshore installations?
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