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Sensors used in Industry

24 January 2017

SENSORS

Sensors used in Industry

Picture above kindly provided by YellowScan http://www.yellowscan.fr/#uav-based-lidar

The use of cameras for taking images is quite well known especially for the drone market. For the most part it is their primary selling point to all businesses who need them outside of the public sector. There are many different sorts of cameras that can be used with one of the main sorts being that of the thermal camera. Thermal imaging is used to detect heat of everything shown in an image. Naturally, this can be used in construction to see heat flow and also used to track workers on sight since the human body is often much warmer than slab of concreate. One major draw to the thermal camera is the ability to measure heat flow which is something hard to monitor without such a camera, it can provide instant data on what might be a sink for heat or where temperature is being lost or gained which in turn could be decreasing or increasing efficiency for a business.

Drones attached with thermal cameras can be used for many tasks than just a construction site. They can be used to deal with Industrial Inspections providing information where leaks might be found and also the flow of boiler pipes for example. Drones with such a camera would no doubt lessen the time to find such faults if any while also perhaps finding areas that might need repair or attention to run more efficiently. It’s not industrial inspections but also commercial or residential areas that can also be inspected, providing data on thermal insulation and perhaps see where defects are in the structures that cause them to have irregular heat flow. With the data in hand, businesses are more able to provide fixes that are more effect and efficient when knowing key to work on.

One useful area that thermal imaging can provide support is on off-shore gas and oil rigs. Due to them being off any known grid and the conditions often around areas at open sea, a drone can provide access to areas that human may not be able to reach without drastic aid or would be dangerous to them, others and/or the rig itself. An inspection of a rig can be done within hours thanks to a drone and there is no shut-down time either, allowing production to remain while the inspection is on-going. Drones are often use to provide inspections of the flare stacks to ensure everything is running smoothly, given the importance of the stack for those upon the rig, it is much safer and easier for a drone to inspect this. The rapid deployment and ease of a drone can make these inspections swift and thus any issues can be corrected shortly after discovery too.

Thermal cameras on drones also has a more practical use for other sectors as well. They can be used for fire and rescue terms, allowing vision almost through smoke to detect the hot spots where the fire is burning as well as providing a survey of the areas that would be safe for the teams to use. The drone would also have the air where other assets might not be able to reach or go to. Hazard teams can also use this benefit. Not to mention that most drones are able to be deployed swiftly and also off-the-grind which can be crucial in these more dangerous or life-threatening areas where the power grid might not be accessible.

Sensors used in Industry

Picture courtesy of Inspectahire Ltd https://www.inspectahire.com/industries/industries-oil-gas

The best sort of sensors right now can be found due to Lidar or (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. Lidar uses light pulses to capture images. Think of it almost like sonar but instead of sound, it uses light instead. Below is a rough idea of happens with Lidar:

First the laser pulse is released.
The camera then records the scattered signals that are detected.
It then measures the distance by taking into account the Time of Light multiplied by the speed of light. (Time of flight x speed of light)
It then retrieves the plane’s position and altitude to take that into account.
The data is then able to be computerized the echo positons.

It seems quite complex but basically light is being used to build an image of terrain beneath the drone without taking a picture. An image is being constructed based on the points the light hits and can be detected. The computerized image produces a 3D image of what the drone had captured, providing vastly more detail than what a simple camera could pick up. Lidar imagery can be done at night and still provide an image due to it requiring a single light pulse to build an image. Some of Lidar’s best uses is in the agricultural sector since it can inspect crops and leaves on a massive scale though as time progresses, there is little doubt that we won’t see more of Lidar’s influence across the drone industry given the benefits that drones provide with speed and ease combined with Lidar’s highly detailed imagery that can be produced.

Consult 3 Axis-UAS today about how Thermal Imagery and Lidar technology can help your business.

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