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Hi there,

I recently read some articles about UAVs being used for the purpose of structural inspections of offshore oil platforms and the cargo tanks of ships.  Having worked operationally in the maritime industry for the last 16 years, in both the offshore energy and merchant sectors, I was wondering if I can help any UAV professionals get started in these markets.
 
There is definitely lot of room for UAV service and product development in the maritime industry, so depending on your needs, I can help you understand the maritime industry better and identify local opportunities wherever you are in the world.  If you are interested in developing new UAV related software and hardware, which may engage, entertain or help improve the safety and welfare of sea-goers, I would be happy to provide input and give advise.  Just let me know!
 
All the best
 
Thom
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@Thomo, welcome to the UAV Coach community! Thanks for introducing yourself in the forum and for offering to help folks out.

Admittedly I have no background in the maritime industry, but I'm fascinated by some of the use cases you've mentioned.

We've spoken with Switzerland-based Elios before about their caged Flyability solution, designed for hard-to-reach / inaccessible / cramped interior spaces. More info here: https://uavcoach.com/flyability-elios/

When you think about some of the more common use cases you mentioned, like structural inspections of both offshore rigs and cargo ships, what kinds of things are being looked at today? How are those inspections being handled now, without drones? Curious what the end report looks like from the inspector, if there are licensed inspectors or a certain kind of maritime industry standard as far as this work goes.

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Hi Alan,

I am aware of the elios and think their solution is excellent. 

There is also group of companies looking into autonomous flight of UAVs within ballast and cargo tanks and I think the pre-mapping idea is the prefect solution to navigating around such tanks.  http://www.bureauveritas.com/home/news/business-news/bureau-veritas-joins-the-recomms-drones-project

Personally I would like to see drones developed towards making life easier and safer for ship crews.  As well as inspection of tanks, I think there could be systems created to aid recovery of people falling overboard, anti-piracy and looking long term, automated ships.  A company called Sky-Futures https://www.sky-futures.com/ has entered the offshore market as well as Cyberhawk https://www.thecyberhawk.com/

There is a lot of space in the maritime industry for UAV businesses to get started.  Most people have no idea about the operational side to the maritime industry, most people I know think "cruise ship, container ship, fishing boat, oil tanker sinking, environmental disaster".  I am happy to say there is way more involved, all that is needed is an increased awareness of the industry - that is where I can help.

To answer your question, when talking about structural inspections, the major concern is corrosion of the steel. 

Ships crews will inspect tanks and vessel structures on a bi-annual basis, which is extremely dangerous and results in considerable loss of life every year.  On offshore platforms usually rope access teams are used to literally climb down over the water to inspect and repair external structures.

There is a lot of international and national standards that are imposed on ships due to the potential loss of life, environmental impact and commercial risk of transporting goods by sea. 

There are 3 main bodies who need to be satisfied that a ship is maintained to correct standard:

All three bodies have their own registered inspectors who are qualified marine professionals and can be found in almost any country around the world.  These inspectors are one of the groups who will employ UAV services.

Here are some links your readers might find interesting.

https://www.dnvgl.com/news/dnv-gl-carries-out-its-first-offshore-drone-survey-98663

https://ww2.eagle.org/en/news/press-room/2016/ABS-Releases-Industry-leading-Guidance-for-Drones.html

Not UAV related, but interesting all the same

http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/mixed-reality-technology-readied-for-offshore-vessels

 

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