When compared to Amazon delivery or police operations, power-plant boiler inspection via drone may not seem sexy, but one Japanese company knows such missions can be life-saving.
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. is bringing drone-inspection technologies to check out boilers and similar large-scale indoor structures. The conglomerate plans to offer the industrial-level service starting this month. Locating weak spots or areas for repair in that kind of infrastructure could avert several types of industrial and utility disasters.
Along from R&D firm A.L.I. Technologies, the company is developing autonomous drones following a successful test of manually-piloted drones last year.
“Basic technology verification tests” were conducted in September of 2018 and company officials say the tests “confirmed the capability for autonomous flight without using GPS or other satellite positioning systems.”
A Mitsubishi statement notes:
“The practical application of UAVs using satellite positioning systems is already well advanced, but operational technologies in special environments, such as the inside of boilers, have yet to be established, making practical application a breakthrough technology. [Mitsubishi], by developing drone-enabled power plant inspection technologies and providing advanced after-sales services for power generation facilities, will further enhance stable energy supplies and contribute to global economic development, while lessening the environmental load.”
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems is the result of a merger of the thermal power generation divisions of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi. Hitachi has already made several major investments in drone technology.
Last year, Hitachi was awarded a contract for the development of the “Fukushima Robot Test Field” drone flight management system. The “Fukushima Robot Test Field” is the only test center with a drone operations management function at the Japanese large-scale demonstration laboratory. The goal of the test center is to further advance BVLOS drone flights. Unifly and Terra Drone provide the technical UTM backbone to ensure safe BVLOS drone flights at the test center
A company statement noted:
“Hitachi Group’s drone-based solutions are cloud-based and incorporate the following three concepts: ‘safe and secure autonomous flight,’ ‘one-stop solution’ and ‘cooperative creative innovation.’ In addition to this Hitachi Group actively contributes to the development of the necessary legal and standardization frameworks by providing policy advise through the Japan Unmanned Operation Management Consortium (JUTM), by researching the next generation unmanned aerial vehicles at the University of Tokyo and by participating in the ISO’s international standardization activities.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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