Development of the drone
For developing its special purpose drone Hadek has collaborated with Avular, a company specialised in drone robotics. A R&D team was assembled consisting of Hadek and Avular engineers and this team started its work in 2019. The research, testing and development work included a number of test flights in the Netherlands, Poland, the United States and the United Arab Emirates and we extend our deepest thanks to the chimney owners who allowed us to use their facilities for all this work.
The inspection drone is now ready for service and it can operate in chimneys with a range of dimensions. The chimney drone can carry out inspections in almost any condition, provided the work area is accessible to the operator and the climate conditions are dry.
When looking at local aviation regulations of any country, it is important to consider that the drone does not fly in national airspace. The drone flies exclusively within the chimney. This fact will make operating the drone easier as well as safer. Even if a power station has other units operating at the time of the inspection, the drone can be operated under nearly all HSE regulations.
- Chimney diameters up to 20 meters
- Chimney heights up to 250 meters
- Automated inspection speed 0,5 m/s
- Manual/auto photo mode ( 1 photo/second)
- Flight time of 30 to 40 minutes
- 20-megapixel camera with autofocus
- Flashlight brightness of ±2000 lumen
- Compact design (foldable)
- Live video feed on the remote control
How does it work
With its high resolution camera the drone can collect images throughout its entire flight. Each image is registered with its exact height and direction. This makes it possible to track any deterioration mechanism over time by duplicating the exact same flight path and picture locations during subsequent inspection runs.
First of all, Hadek will develop software to stitch together all individual pictures into a single file that covers the entire chimney internal surface. Once this is done, it will be possible for customers, using VR headsets, to perform an in depth inspection of their chimney while sitting behind their desks. This “Peter Pan option” will make condition checks and maintenance planning for industrial chimneys even easier.
At the same time, we are investigating how the drone platform can be used to collect information on moisture penetration into a chimney flue (lining). Several promising technologies are available for such measurements and our challenge will be to make these technologies compatible with the drone.
Finally, customers have been asking us to use this drone for inspecting other large structures within industrial plants, such as boilers. While the Hadek drone has not been developed for such structures, we will investigate how its unique technical properties can be put to use here, also.