There are more than 50.000 large merchant ships worldwide that require, by the international maritime regulation, detailed inspections (including visual, wall thickness, and paint coating) in tanks and holds every 5 years.
The ACIDRONES is an EU-funded project supported by RIMA (Robotics for Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance Grant agreement ID: 824990). This project aims to push the limits of aerial robots for wall thickness inspection and maintenance of large Ships and cargo, embedding aerial robots with manipulation capabilities to perform contact inspection. Aided with artificial intelligence and cutting-edge technology, this project will elevate the TRL of state of art solutions to assist these inspections. These inspections are usually costly and dangerous because these need to be done at heights and locations with difficult access.
The use of contact drones for these inspections will allow reducing time and cost of these operations, reducing drastically the risks of these activities, and also improving the quality of the inspection data with a 100% digital, AI-based, and traceable process.
ACIDRONES have just started, but in one year approximately it will be validated and demonstrated in a relevant environment in Cádiz, performing the inspection of a ship hull and inside of the transport tank.
This project is the union of VES (Vertical Engineering Solutions) and BUQUELAND, two companies from the south of Spain with international projection. VES is a young technological spin-off based in the south of Spain. Since it’s born in 2019, it has provided inspection services with drones for the industry. The company, with basement in Algeciras, accounts with an engineering team in Seville, which has the support of CATEC and the University of Seville, pioneers in the research of unmanned aerial systems. VES has participated previously in national and international projects such as AERIAL-CORE or ICDRONE.
Buqueland is a company based in Cadiz with presence in the industry over Spain and in many international industries in the world. It offers Complete services of Quality, Inspection, and Control by non-destructive testing, and dimensional control. Buqueland operates in both new and in-use facilities and constructions in sectors such as industrial, maritime, offshore, Eolic, and petrochemical.
The company has collaborated with the university of Cadiz in a research Project in the use of X-Ray techniques for inspection of ships and cargo. The project has been adjudicated by Navantia in its facility in A Coruña, from an I+D+I project to develop automated Phased Array UT sensors for the inspection of Weld cords in “Éolica Marina”. This Project was wrapped inside of the Project F4ST, co-financed by the FEDER program Galicia 2014-2020. Inside of the tematic block 1, “potenciar la investigación, el desarrollo tecnológico y la innovación”.