Why This Tool is Changing Confined Inspection Forever | COPTRZ

Why This Tool is Changing Confined Inspection Forever

Rachel Shardlow

3:04 pm GMT •

March 17, 2023

As technology continues to advance, it is no surprise that new and innovative tools are being created to help professionals in various industries. In the field of inspection, one such tool that has gained significant attention is Flyability’s Elios 3 drone. With its ability to navigate and capture images in tight and complex spaces, the Elios 3 has revolutionised inspection processes across various industries.

One of the most useful features of the Elios 3 is its ability to create 3D maps of confined spaces. These 3D maps provide a comprehensive visual representation of the space, allowing inspectors to detect flaws within their assets or potential hazards.

Let’s run through a variety of ways that inspectors are using 3D maps made by the Elios 3 to enhance their inspection processes, improve overall safety, and save money.

Nexus at Newcastle Central Station

Coptrz was assigned the challenging task of entering a confined shaft from a secure location. Our objective was to create a complete 3D model of the entire void, capture high-quality visuals of the lower stair location, and ensure that no humans were sent into the dangerous environment at any point.

CHALLENGES: Navigating through a pitch-black, dusty void with several twists can potentially compromise the signal strength. In addition, capturing images of a potential issue at the bottom of the stairwell adds to the complexity of the mission.

RESULT: Piloting the Elios 3, we were able to tick off each requirement in UNDER ONE BATTERY which was around 8 minutes of total flight time. We started the drone at the entrance of the stairwell and manoeuvred down to the lower areas with total balance and illumination.

Using the high-quality visuals and the LiDAR model side by side, the team were able to visualise where the issue was and come to a quick countermeasure to fix.

Being able to pilot from a safe distance and capture both 4k visual data as well as precise LiDAR information in under 10 minutes just goes to show the reason the Flyability ELIOS 3 is being adopted by so many organisations spread across multiple industries.

See the footage below.


Ore Pass Hang-up

Using the Elios 3 drone, a mining operation detected the cause of an ore pass hang-up within 10 minutes, pinpointing its exact location and visualising the obstruction in a 3D map.

CHALLENGES: For two months, personnel at a major mining operation in Colorado had spent tedious weeks drilling and blasting away at the truck chute to attempt to identify the cause of the hang-up.

After these two months, the clogged area of the mine became exhausted and efforts to remove the blockage were halted. This caused the clogged ore pass to be left abandoned with no understanding of what caused the blockage.

Later, pilots from Flyability demonstrated the Elios 3’s capabilities with the request to fly up the ore pass to examine the hang-up.

RESULT: In just 10 minutes, geo-locational data on the Elios 3’s 3D Live Map showed them the precise location and positioning of the hang-up in the ore pass. They could see that the blockage was caused by a large rock.

Large rock blocking ore pass causing a hang-up, discovered by the Elios 3 indoor inspection drone

With this knowledge, they could have saved months of labour in drilling exploratory holes. This advanced technology provides a strategic advantage to mine operators, enabling them to optimise their resources and maximise efficiency.

See the 3D model of the clog in the chute from the Elios 3’s LiDAR data.


Vattenfall Power Plant Inspection

By utilising the Elios 3, personnel at a decommissioned power plant owned by Vattenfall were able to create detailed 3D models of areas within “no-go” zones. The 3D models generated through this process provided a comprehensive understanding of the areas in question, enabling informed decision-making and risk mitigation strategies. This successful implementation of drone technology highlights its potential for improving safety in hazardous environments.

CHALLENGES: The Vattenfall team chose to test the capabilities of the Elios 3 in an old staircase within the power plant that was inaccessible to humans. The drone had to fly a considerable distance of approximately 30-40 meters (98-130 feet) up the stairwell to create a complete map of the area while maintaining a strong signal.

RESULT: In just 30 minutes of flying, the team collected all the data. If not for the Elios 3, Vattenfall personnel would have had to resort to using rope access techniques or erecting scaffolding to enter the area and collect data on its condition. This traditional method is not only time-consuming and expensive, but also poses significant safety risks to workers.

Watch the video here.


Cement Stockpile Measurement

A cement plant in France used LiDAR data from the Elios 3 in stockpile measurements for a clinker inventory, making the process safer and more accurate.

CHALLENGES: Clinker silos are dusty and dark environments. To keep track of clinker inventory stored in huge silos, personnel at cement plants often rely on standing on a small, unstable platform located at the top of the silo, approximately 25 meters in the air and using a long pole to poke into the stored clinker below. This traditional method also poses significant safety risks to workers and can also result in inaccurate inventory counts as the measurement is purely based on estimation.

Clinker Silo live 3D Map Elios 3 indoor confined inspection

RESULTS: In 10 minutes of flight time and 20 minutes of post-processing on GeoSLAM Connect plant employees were able to obtain a highly accurate volume measurement for the clinker. The Elios 3 was able to navigate through the confined and dusty clinker silo to collect precise LiDAR data which was then processed with GeoSLAM Connect to perform a stockpile measurement of the amount of clinker present. The LiDAR data also allowed it to make real-time 3D maps using SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping).

Watch here.



In conclusion, the use of the Elios 3 for 3D mapping has revolutionised the field of inspection. With its advanced technology and ability to navigate complex environments, inspectors can now gather accurate data and create detailed 3D maps of areas that were once inaccessible or too dangerous to inspect. The Elios 3 has proven to be a valuable tool for a range of industries, from oil and gas to construction and infrastructure. Its compact size, ease of use, and high-quality imaging capabilities have made it a top choice for professionals seeking to improve their inspection processes. As technology continues to evolve, we can only expect further advancements in the field of inspection and 3D mapping, and the Elios 3 will undoubtedly play a critical role in shaping the future of these industries.


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