Risk-aware Automated Port Inspection Drone(s)

Sailing towards unmanned inspection services

Ports and harbours are the epicentres of the global arterial transport system connecting landside, inland waterway, and maritime spheres. Structural condition monitoring of the intermodal network of road and rail bridges, ships, and port infrastructure relies on non-destructive visual examination by in-situ engineers. SoA methods employ manually piloted UAS to capture camera inspection data.

Port industry surveys reveal that 9% of respondents use UAS for port services, including RAPID partner Hamburg Port Authority, and adoption rates are projected to grow nearly five-fold within three years. UAS perform survey-data collection tasks in 10% time, and 0% cost of manual approaches and are faster at achieving complete surface coverage in difficult-to-access areas; the productivity gains improve operating costs and minimise disruption to transport system users. However, the process of fault identification during current UAS survey operation still requires mobilisation of scaffolding and elevated machines to support inspection engineers that must physically investigate and mark detected faults while working at height.

As a result, the UAS cost savings are negated, the survey method is not scalable, and the benefits remain unexploited. The commercial impact of RAPID when applied to ship hull inspection would translate into a doubling of shipping industry profit margins through the reduction in survey inspection downtime and overheads. RAPID will elevate UAS surveying to the next level to automate improved scalability, profitability, and safety. It will unlock savings of up to €130,000 per survey for customers, generating revenue of €124 million and saving up to 100 lives per year by 2028.


More information about the project can be found at the project website.