Skygauge introduces a next-generation drone design enabling contact inspection of industrial structures.
Covid-19 Puts Pressure On Industrial Site Inspections
COVID-19 has forced companies to adapt to a new reality as businesses reopen. This change has been most challenging for industrial work sites. These sites are more conservative in adopting new technology, however, the pressures of COVID-19 have highlighted the need for them to innovate.
Routine inspections must be performed at these facilities to maintain safe operations. The importance of this work was shown in late May, when a faulty storage tank leaked 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil into a river in Russia, and caused a state of emergency.
The Opportunity For Inspection Robotics
With increased pressure to reduce costs, minimize human involvement, and make work safer, inspection robotics has emerged as the solution. Aker BP, a Norwegian oil and gas producer, has adopted the Spot from Boston Dynamics to patrol their offshore rigs. They are using Spot to patrol areas and have facility staff view the data remotely without going to site. Regulatory bodies are accommodating increased drone usage, with the FAA granting temporary coronavirus exemptions for a Texas based oil and gas company while workers can’t come to site. Lastly, consulting firms like Mckinsey are suggesting leading oil and gas companies should be “protecting or even scaling up technology” investments in the post-COVID reopening.
Skygauge Robotics is part of the push to decrease worker time on site. They are a Canadian startup that has reinvented the drone to perform a wider range of industrial inspections. Most drones are only performing surface visual inspections with cameras. The Skygauge has a novel design, which contacts pipes, pressure vessels, and storage containers to detect cracks beneath the surface with sensors. Currently, these inspections are expensive and time consuming because they’re performed by workers on ropes and scaffolding. Using the Skygauge, a team of 2 inspectors can complete a 2 week job in 2 days, reducing time on site by 80%.
Field Trials And Future Plans
Skygauge is currently engaged with over 100 potential customers, and have demos lined up with 10 fortune 500 global companies. Skygauge Robotics are working with inspectors, pilots and industrial facilities to test the technology and bring it to market over the next several months.
“Our goal is to get people out of dangerous environments and the need for this has never been greater because of COVID-19,” mentions CEO and Co-founder Nikita Iliushkin. During lockdown, Skygauge Robotics maxed out its early adopter client list and is now opening up pre-orders for its commercial launch in 2021. So far, the company has received $400k in pre-seed funding and is getting ready for a larger round to respond to demand for more pilot projects and commercial deployments.