Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 2018

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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AIR NEW APPLICATIONS 54   February/March 2018 unmanned systems inside set rather than bring in outside pilots. Trebilcock has worked closely with the pilots over the last few years to safely and effectively implement drones into operations. They've also invested in a variety of drones for the many different missions they fly. The SkyRanger does well in ad- verse weather conditions, has great op- tics and is tablet driven. They purchased the eBee RTK for its mapping capability and the Albris for its ability to look up and down with its camera. The DJI Maverick is well suited for indoor inspections, and the Elios can fit into confined spaces and difficult- to-reach areas inside the facilities. The program has come a long way in the last few years, and the team intends to keep looking for new, innovative ways drones can reduce safety hazards and save time and money. "The main challenge is the un- known," Trebilcock said. "We've experienced some electromagnetic interference in areas we didn't an- ticipate. We're basically putting aircraft where they've never been before. We're f lying below the 400 foot ceiling and close to structures. We have to tread lightly and document as we go." Detecting Leaks A U.S. based power plant used the Flyability Elios, a collision tolerant drone, to check a valve that was leaking in a radioactive area, said Marc Gandillon, Flyability's head of marketing. "They are extremely risk averse and extremely cautious on the way they op- erate the plant," Gandillon said. "They know any incident can have conse- quences, and when they suspect any minor problem within an area where there is radioactivity, they have to know what's going on and get a report out." Before investing in the Elios, they sent people into radioactive areas when they needed to identify a leak, Gandillon said. To do that, they had to make the area human accessible first, which means lowering the level of ra- dioactivity in the environment by turn- ing down the power plant—a process that takes half a shift to complete. Once that's done, workers could then go into the area with the necessary equip- ment, but only for a short amount of time, depending on the levels of radioactivity. If they can't find the source of the leak, which can be difficult to spot in that limited timespan, a second team would have to go in. After the leak is identified and fixed, the plant can go back up to full power, which takes another six hours. "The loss of production revenue in this case was half a million dollars for checking a valve that was leak- ing," Gandillon said. "For that kind of very minor issue they have the po- tential loss of production and have to expose people to radiation, which is a big problem. With Elios, they can get the same information without send- ing humans into the area and without a loss of production." Before they could bring the Elios in, the facility had to go through a substan- tial risk assessment to make sure the sys- tem was safe, and didn't have the poten- tial to create other problems, Gandillon said. For example, there are pipes buried in the ground to pump radioactive water. If a drone were to fall on and damage a pipe, it could lead to major problems. Because the Elios is surrounded by a cage, that wasn't a concern. Rober t Carnaroli, who ha s worked with the Elios at an Exelon nuclear plant, was initially inter- ested in using it to detect steam and water leaks. "When the time came, we f lew into a Hi Rad (radiation) area and inspected a small leak saving 900mr of dose to a person who would have had to perform the work," he said. "The thermal and high quality video was instrumen- tal in determining the cause of the issue and the fix. All the work was planned and when there was a load drop (reduction in power reducing area dose rates) the job was performed." There is now an Elios in each of the company's facilities, and employees are encouraged to think of new, safe ways to use the system. One wanted to check the type of sprinkler heads installed up high in a room, and others have asked about using it to inspect inside of pipes. Some facilities are also looking at the Elios to monitor hazardous material storage, Gandillon said. These materi- als are stored in large spaces and fa- cilities need to know how the contain- ers are evolving over time. Deploying drones would provide that information while reducing human exposure. Photo courtesy Cyberhawk Innovations. Cyberhawk Innovations recently completed containment domes and the Cook Nuclear Plant.

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