Mitsubishi Hitachi Launch Boiler Inspection Drones

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When compared to Amazon delivery or police operations,
power-plant boiler inspection via drone may not seem sexy, but one Japanese
company knows such missions can be life-saving.

DroneLife Archives

Mitsubishi Hitachi
Power Systems, Ltd.
is bringing drone-inspection technologies to check out boilers
and similar large-scale indoor structures. The conglomerate plans to offer the
industrial-level service starting this month. Locating weak spots or areas for
repair in that kind of infrastructure could avert several types of industrial
and utility disasters.

Along from R&D firm A.L.I. Technologies, the company is
developing autonomous drones following a successful test of manually-piloted
drones last year.

“Basic technology verification tests” were conducted in
September of 2018 and company officials say the tests “confirmed the capability
for autonomous flight without using GPS or other satellite positioning systems.”

A Mitsubishi statement notes:

“The practical application of UAVs using satellite positioning systems is already well advanced, but operational technologies in special environments, such as the inside of boilers, have yet to be established, making practical application a breakthrough technology. [Mitsubishi], by developing drone-enabled power plant inspection technologies and providing advanced after-sales services for power generation facilities, will further enhance stable energy supplies and contribute to global economic development, while lessening the environmental load.”

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems is the result of a merger
of the thermal power generation divisions of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and
Hitachi. Hitachi has already made several major investments in drone

Last year, Hitachi
was awarded a contract
for the development of the “Fukushima Robot Test
Field” drone flight management system. The “Fukushima Robot Test Field” is the
only test center with a drone operations management function at the Japanese
large-scale demonstration laboratory. The goal of the test center is to further
advance BVLOS drone flights. Unifly and Terra Drone provide the technical UTM
backbone to ensure safe BVLOS drone flights at the test center

A company statement noted:

“Hitachi Group’s drone-based solutions are cloud-based and incorporate the following three concepts: ‘safe and secure autonomous flight,’ ‘one-stop solution’ and ‘cooperative creative innovation.’ In addition to this Hitachi Group actively contributes to the development of the necessary legal and standardization frameworks by providing policy advise through the Japan Unmanned Operation Management Consortium (JUTM), by researching the next generation unmanned aerial vehicles at the University of Tokyo and by participating in the ISO’s international standardization activities.”


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