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U-ROB, a German drone manufacturer, with support from Ersa GmbH, has developed the quadrocopter drone, ROBi, for demanding applications inside buildings.
“Many UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] are equipped with standard components. But flying in enclosed spaces also requires good communication and navigation transmission as well as powerful, dimmable, small headlights,” said Jörg Nolte, product manager of soldering tools, rework and inspection systems at Ersa GmbH. In these cases, standard solutions cannot always be used and individual developments have to be made, as U-ROB has shown.
The controlling of the drone as well as the communication in enclosed spaces can be severely restricted by the environment. U-ROB has developed the drone ROBi for industrial applications, which the company launched in 2019. “This includes applications such as the inspection of pipelines and combustion chambers in power plants, the inspection of chimneys and the interior of bridge structures as well as the inspection of tanks and sewage pipes,” explained Joseph Metz, founder and managing director of U-ROB GmbH.
ROBi is equipped with an exchange mechanism for different sensors and camera systems. This allows the system to be used flexibly. “For example: during the interior inspection of a large tank we discover a possibly defective area on a weld seam on the transmission images of the camera. We can now replace the camera system with a system that measures the thickness of the coating or takes a sample, which allows us to tell the customer how serious the damage is,” said Metz. A complete inspection of a large tank can be carried out within a few hours. In contrast, conventional inspections lead to a downtime of several days.
For these applications, ROBi is equipped with a very bright RGB camera with a resolution of 12Mpx. Since ROBi usually operates in dark surroundings, the camera was fitted with dimmable high-power LEDs. The camera and LEDs are mounted decoupled from vibrations and can be turned by remote control 180 degrees up and down.