Scout, a Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) startup, has begun manufacturing autonomous drones for safer ship inspection.
Ranked as one of Trondheim’s most promising technology companies, Scout is planning to deploy its drones for inspecting ship tanks and underwater storage spaces.
Ships and maritime installations are often subjected to strong forces that corrode their materials.
Saltwater causes metal to rust, and waves and rough seas can eat away at ruptures and cracks on the hull.
All these factors make it imperative for ships and other structures to be inspected regularly for cracking, rust and corrosion.
Shipping companies have been testing manually controlled drones, but they require highly skilled and experienced drone pilots to do the job.
Using the GPS inside the ship tanks isn’t possible, and the vessels’ thick steel structures affect the manual steering by disrupting the magnetic compass that keeps the drone on course.
Most operators still use scaffolding, climbing and rafting with inflatables to reach all the places that need to be checked.
This is both time consuming and expensive, and involves a certain security risk for those doing the work.
Scout hopes to change this with its new fleet of drones that can autonomously inspect ship tanks and storage spaces.
“This will provide better and safer collection of data at lower cost,” says chief technical officer Kristian Klausen.
“Right now we’re focusing a lot on implementing software and our own electronics. We’re also using 3D printing extensively to adjust the mechanical design,” says Klausen.
“3D printing enables us to draw, print and test new models within just a few hours.”
The startup is also producing sensors and cameras for the inspection drones. The drone’s electronics are currently being manufactured in Germany and China.
The newly manufactured drones will be trialed and tested at Trondheim’s Faktry, a hardware incubator for budding entrepreneurs.
“We’re flying several prototypes here at Faktry and have also started developing our own cloud solutions,” remarks Klausen.
Image and content: Scout/NTNU-Gemini