Lloyd’s Register Issues Guidance Notes for Offshore Drone Inspection

Lloyd’s Register (LR) has released guidance notes for inspection with next-generation drone and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The company said the new guidance approach supports industry in the safe and effective deployment of these systems that can significantly improve productivity gains through reducing risk exposure, survey times and in-service inspection costs of offshore, marine and onshore infrastructure.

“We are developing these guidance notes to provide a consistent approach to risk in UAS and drone deployment, offering practical operational considerations relating to regulations, personnel, quality, safety, hardware, software and operations,” said LR’s Chief Technology Officer, Nial McCollam.

UAS, commonly known as drones, provide an effective alternative to traditional methods of in-service operational assessment and survey, especially structures and assets at significant heights, difficult to access locations and hazardous environments.

UAS are piloted remotely or autonomously, which reduces the need to send personnel into high-risk and challenging environments. This provides a real opportunity to decrease the number of falls and fatalities that occur due to traditional methods of working at heights, as reported by the US Bureau of Labor, Safe-Work Australia and the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.

The new guidance notes will be updated regularly to provide industry with the latest practical information on issues such as how best to use UAS for inspection in confined spaces which is particularly relevant in energy and marine applications where Class surveys are needed, and which also improves safety.

“We have been looking into robotics and unmanned systems for years, not just on the technology but also on design codes, policies and guidelines on safe and sustainable deployment. We see UAS as part of the unmanned systems and robotics story, which also includes underwater and ground-based systems,” said Chris Chung, Head of Strategic Research Projects at Lloyd’s Register.

“In addition to tried and tested applications such as safely inspecting assets of flare stacks and other outdoor critical infrastructure, we are collaborating with industry to enable inspection of the undersides of offshore structures maritime vessels and confined spaces such as storage tanks,” Chung said. “With increasing capabilities, we believe UAS will in the future have the ability to autonomously follow a pre-defined flight path, enabling higher measurement accuracy and repetition of collecting more relevant data and operational defects while inspecting and data-gathering in real-time.”

 

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