Drone is probably one of the most important invention in this century. With drones, many impossibilities into possibilities, such as affordable aerial imaging, cargo/parcel delivery, and even saving lives – just to name a few, and now, this invention can add another critical use to its name: structure inspection – thanks to Japan drone specialist, ProDrone’s PD6-CI-L Self-Propelling Surface-Clinging Drone. The idea of building inspection using drone is not new and so is the issue with winds when carrying out such operations. Inspection of tall buildings and road bridges often subjects the drone to powerful gust of winds which makes stable hovering extremely difficult and hence, inspectors will not be able to get an accurate picture.
However, with the PD6-CI-L, the unique ‘L’ shaped designed with wheels enables it to ‘stick’ to and travel along walls or ceilings to carry out inspection. The concept is similar to Parrot Minidrone’s; it uses negative pressure to enable the aircraft to ‘cling’ onto the surface to be inspected, providing inspectors with a constant focal distance and when used with a high-def camera, ProDrone said it is possible to ‘see’ cracks as subtle as 0.1mm wide. Amazingly, the negative pressure also affords the drone to be slowed to just 3 mph (5 km/h) to carry precise inspection as it crawls along walls and ceilings. Under normal flight, it has a top speed of 12 miles an hour (or about 20 km/h).
PD6-CI-L has a total of six motors which are powered by a pair of 6,000 mAh battery pack that offers 10 minutes of flight. Obviously, 10 minutes isn’t going cut it for complex inspection, so I guess there’s a bit of work there in terms of payload and battery efficiency. But it is a good start and who knows, drones like this may compel more organizations, governments included, to inspect critical structures more frequently and therefore, it maybe indirect saving many people’s ass. However, the design the drone does leave much to be desired, but hey, I guess if it works, it’s all good then.
Images courtesy of ProDrone.