: RECOMMS drone pilot training - navigating a wing ballast tank hopper compartment. Image courtesy Marine Technical Limits

Bureau Veritas has joined RECOMMS (Remote Evaluation of Coatings / Corrosion on Offshore Machinery and Marine Structures / Ships), a joint investment project, to develop drones with the capability to inspect steel structures in enclosed spaces.

The primary objectives are to develop a steady, stable and reliable drone capable of following programmable flight paths, either pre-determined by 3D imagery software or flown by a pilot, using 3D simulator ship specific training programs, according to a statement.

In the first phase of development the drone will be designed to carry an unobstructed HD camera as well as lighting and batteries with suitable strength, durability and longevity to perform structural and coating inspections within a ballast tank whilst providing reliable clear images fit for comparison with close up inspection.

Jean-François Segretain, Technical Director, Bureau Veritas, Marine & Offshore said: “The end goal is to be able to survey cargo spaces, ballast tanks and confined spaces remotely and effectively. If we can do this with drones we can help reduce risks to our surveyors and ship crews by minimizing the need, for example, to erect expensive staging whilst covering the survey scope which would otherwise require surveyors to work at height or perform tank inspections by means of rafting.”