Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2016-JAN 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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49 unmanned systems inside December 2016/January 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. BY THE NUMBERS $ 127.3 billion The value of the global market for paint and coatings in 2013. 95 The number of climbers that died working on cell and other industrial towers between 2004 and 2012. Source: World Paint & Coatings Industry Association a global market for paint and coatings valued at $127.3 billion in 2013, with $25.4 billion of that in the U.S. alone, according to a 2014 re- port from the World Paint & Coatings Industry Association. Drones have the potential to capture a sig- nificant portion of those markets through more cost-effective service. For instance, when it comes to shipping, a standard cruise or cargo ship has an underwa- ter hull area 60,000 to 80,000 square feet in size that requires more than $100,000 worth of paint. This takes a work crew of about 30 people four days to set up scaffolding, paint, and remove the scaffolding. Every day a ship spends in dry dock being painted can cost more than $1 million in lost revenue. "If we can have a robotic system do that in one day of dry dock, that's three days less lost revenue," he said. The Worker Bee Apellix's Worker Bee drone is a commercial off-the-shelf Turbo Ace Matrix quadcopter connected to a mobile base station via an umbilical cord. The drone has a spray wand to paint walls, while the base station houses the paint reservoir, air compressor and power source. It can reach up to three stories high. "By taking the battery off, we can take off a couple of extra pounds," Dahlstrom said. When he first came up with the idea for a painting drone, "I thought, 'drones can only f ly for about 20 minutes, and paint is heavy, meaning they can only f ly with it for about five or 10 minutes. How am I going to get around that?'" Dahlstrom said. "The eureka moment was using an umbilical cord. You can keep the paint and power on the ground, and pump ev- erything on the ground, and the sensors and software would control everything. I did a proof of concept, and have five patents pend- ing now." Apellix uses a 3,000-psi Titan Industrial air compressor. "We're also experimenting with a 7,300-psi compressor for the heavier paint used on industrial ships," Dahlstrom said. "In terms of paint, it's just ugly grey and green and black, 'oops' paint that was mixed incorrectly or that a homeowner got wrong from Sherwin-Williams within walking distance from my house." The drone uses LiDAR for 3-D scanning, op- tical and ultrasonic sensors for sub-millimeter depth perception to determine distances to walls, and temperature and humidity sensors that can help refine its painting strategies. It also uses short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensors to look for invisible details such as structural weaknesses, which could help paint manufac- turers avoid lawsuits. "For the most part, when it comes to all the paint that's sold, paint manufacturers don't know how it's applied," Dahlstrom said. "There are re- ally large lawsuits out there, over paint or coat- ings peeling off and not lasting as long as they should, that blame the paint manufacturers— while the paint manufacturers say that it's not the paint, but how it's applied. A robotic system can measure all these environmental variables involved, such as humidity, temperature of the air, temperature of the surface, and add high-res- olution video or snapshots to help address these A clear superhydrophobic nanoparticle coating helps keep paint from sticking. Red and blue umbilical cords connect the drone to a base station that supplies paint and electricity.

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