The use of UAVs for industrial site inspection is gaining momentum. And it is not surprising, because this is the best means during emergency situations, which eliminates risks and threats to the life and health of personnel, it is the collection of reliable information in real time in the most difficult and unforeseen conditions, and in the end it is cost-effective (1 drone = 3-4 people).
Having collected a lot of feedback and wishes from customers, the Swiss company Flyability brought to the market Elios 2, an inspector drone designed specifically for working in difficult conditions where humans should not be present. These drones are in the arsenal of DroneUA, the official importer and distributor of Elios technologies in Ukraine. Like its predecessor, Elios 2 is not afraid of confined spaces and is always ready to face danger. According to statements by company representatives, the idea of creating such a drone was suggested by nature itself. Engineers observed the insects and their flight, how they collided with each other in the air and continued to fly. It was this feature that they tried to recreate, and it seems that they successfully coped with the task.
“They beat, they beat, but they didn’t break...”
The drone itself is mounted inside a spherical frame made of durable and lightweight carbon fiber on freely rotating platforms. In appearance, this frame resembles a pyramidal dodecahedron and is a composition of modular structures, which, by the way, makes servicing the unit easier and cheaper. In this case, the protective housing does not rotate and does not fall into the camera lens. With its help, the drone maintains its integrity. The presence of the frame eliminates any contact with the environment, which could complicate the flight, because the electric motors, blades, camera and thermal imager are protected from mechanical damage when colliding with an obstacle - the drone, like a ball, bounces off it and flies further along a given course.
When colliding with an obstacle, this drone immediately returns to a stable position by instantly adjusting the speed and direction of rotation of the rotors, initiated by the flight software and patented engine control sensors (patented anti-collision technology).
The distance keeping function ensures autonomous stay at a specified distance from an obstacle ranging from 30 to 200 cm. If a blow cannot be avoided, this drone is safe to collide with flat surfaces at speeds of up to 3 m/s and up to 1.5 m/s with sharp ones. .
The slogan of this product is INTUITIVE INDOOR INSPECTION. This is not worth translating literally, but the point is that with Elios 2 everyone can feel like an experienced pilot - it is so simple and intuitive to control this drone.
Dimensions slightly less than 40 cm in diameter facilitate penetration into the most inaccessible places where a person cannot reach or where his presence is extremely undesirable or is completely prohibited. For example, this drone fits easily into the hole of a standard hatch.
Another reason for developers to be proud is the signal strength. You can control the drone beyond the line of sight or on the other side of an obstacle thanks to a powerful wireless transmission system, which, by the way, can be further enhanced with special amplifiers. For example, this drone can be in the chimney of some industrial facility at a height of 150 m, or at a distance of 150 m in a tunnel, fly tens of meters in a metal structure, or several flights of stairs higher in ordinary buildings, without losing connections with your base.
Leave nothing out of sight
Even in conditions without GPS, darkness or limited visibility, or instability due to strong air currents, Elios 2 will provide clear close-up images. Why?
Firstly, it has 7 optical distance stabilizers, thanks to which the drone can literally “hover”, that is, stabilize, in the air, like a helicopter. This, by the way, not only affects the quality of the information received, but also facilitates the management process.
Secondly, there is a high-quality “filling” to which the developers paid special attention. The main camera provides 4K video and 12 MP detailed images with a resolution of 0.18 mm/pixel, even in low light conditions. This allows you to explore every centimeter. Those for whom it is important to receive Full HD video in real time from the first person (First-Person View) will also not be disappointed: Elios2 4k Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 at 30 fps and high-quality stream - FHD: 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps . The predecessor's transmission was in compressed resolution. With such capabilities, you can quite easily detect the smallest defects in the form of cracks, corrosion, etc. at a distance of up to 2 m from the object of observation. Laser and optical flow sensors, as well as a patented merging algorithm in the dark and cluttered space, will allow you to “approach” the target object at arm’s length.
In addition to the usual “on board”, Elios 2 has a built-in thermal imaging camera that helps to detect temperature changes in the drone’s field of view at any time. This function is extremely useful for detecting heat leaks due to breakdowns and hidden defects, the presence of people, animals, etc.
Both cameras are mounted on a 180° tilt gimbal. Thus, the field of view is 260 ° (from + 90 ° to -30 °), which certainly expands the inspection possibilities.
And lastly, the most powerful and intelligent lighting system ever installed on a commercial drone. It is approximately 10 times more powerful than the previous version.
10,000 lumens of light is enough to see even the smallest crack. The illumination is adjusted depending on the user's needs. If there is still not enough light, Elios 2 has another, additional source for capturing a close-up object. Moreover, the light is directed obliquely from the camera, i.e. diffuse lighting is created to assess the depth of defects and analyze texture features due to shadows on irregularities. Such lighting is much more effective in dusty places and helps to avoid unnecessary reflections.
Working with information
Elios 2 has a laser rangefinder that helps the drone follow the camera's optimal resolution range, making it convenient to shoot long, flat objects (such as welds) and measure their length.
At the end of the mission, all data is transferred to the Cockpit and Inspector work applications, where it can be further examined and documented, for example through reporting, changing the way the data is visualized and interpreted. For the preparation of
reports, taking 2D measurements or building 3D models will be required
just a few clicks. For example, while processing data in the Inspector, simply draw a line on the image and get the dimensions of the selected area.
Photogrammetry software such as Pix4D Mapper or Agisoft Photoscan can create detailed 3D copies of study targets for volume and area measurements.
Where to use?
Elios 2 can be the best solution to problems in many areas of human activity.
For example, it will help search for injured climbers in glacier crevasses, as the rescue team did in the Swiss Alps, or participate in other rescue operations.
Its use in industry is no less useful.
Major energy company Con Edison provides steam to over 1,600 major customers, including the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal in mid-Manhattan and the World Trade Center, and uses the Elios drone to inspect and assess the condition of steam boilers. It's faster and cheaper.
There was also experience in inspecting the ballast tanks of a container ship from the CMA CGM ANDROMEDA company. Ballast tanks should be inspected for rust. Previously, this was done by 3-4 people in protective equipment, but now by one operator with a drone.
Elios helped survey mining equipment and mine installations in Chile, similarly meeting customer expectations.
In Ukraine, the Drone.UA company sent him on a dangerous expedition to the 5th unfinished nuclear reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. And although the reactor was never launched, this location and its features were ideal for demonstrating the capabilities of this miracle of robotics.