Top Drones for Inspection in 2021
The drone inspection market continues to grow as technology enables more and more applications, and 2021 is going to be no exception to that. Drone technology is more accessible and affordable than ever before, with all the different options out there, we’ve compiled our list top drones for inspection list.
Inspections are one of the most popular applications of drone technology. People are using drones to carry out inspections of confined spaces, sewer inspections and inspections of hazardous spaces – to name a few examples! Here at Coptrz we have already helped the likes of Severn Trent Water and Networx3 enhance their businesses with drone technology.
Now let’s get stuck into what you came for:
We’ll take you through the following in this article:
- How drones are transforming inspection processes,
- The benefits of drone inspection,
- How using drones for inspections reduces costs,
- Applications of drone inspection,
- Drone inspection cost versus traditional inspection cost,
- Our top 6 drones for inspection in 2021,
- You can download our full Drones for Inspection brochure here.
How are drones transforming the inspection process?
Drones are being increasingly used in almost every industry that requires visual inspections as part of its maintenance, production and service procedures. A visual inspection is simply a careful and thorough review of every single part of an asset. Utilising a drone to undertake a visual inspection uses the drone’s camera to act as the inspector’s eyes.
Visual data is collected by the UAV and then reviewed in detail by the inspector. Not all drone inspections are visual. Any kind of sensor which can be fitted to the UAV can be used for inspection. For example, thermal cameras can identify heat leaking from a building or be used to locate people. Multispectral sensors are used in agriculture and enable farmers to record images of crops to analyse their state.
Drones are a valuable addition to the inspector’s toolbox. Sometimes inspectors might prefer to directly look at something with their own eyes. That can be coupled with a drone application to ensure a full, three-dimensional evaluation, but often using a drone in isolation (not the Covid-19 kind of isolation!) is the perfect tool for the job.
Kyle Veitch, founder of Puffin Technology LTD, commented: “When it comes to confined space or working in very congested areas, the ELIOS2 still leads the pack. The ability to look directly up and (almost) directly down with the 4k camera is great for inspection work. The lighting rig is also very controllable too; lighting conditions vary enormously on some of the inspection jobs we do.”
The benefits of drone inspection…
Using drones to carry out inspections can keep inspector safe by removing the need for them to enter potentially dangerous scenarios, for example climbing towers or high scaffolding.
Often when drones are used for inspections, they don’t find anything that needs to be fixed. In the event that maintenance is required, a person will have to be physically present to fix the issue. However, most of the time the inspection does not uncover work that needs to be done, which means a drone could be used for the full maintenance process 90% of the time.
This is important because building scaffolding to allow a person to perform a manual inspection is generally expensive and a timely process. By only building scaffolding when there is a need to perform maintenance, companies can reduce their expenses which results in saving money.
Organisations and their drone operators benefit from both previously unavailable levels of visibility and lower cost by utilising UAVs rather than traditional human, airplane or helicopter methods. Using drones offers improved worker protection and access to information on assets in many dynamic and challenging industries.
At the end of the day, if you’re still inspecting your assets with rope access, then you really need to be considering the impact that drones will have on the safety, speed and cost savings.
George Burne, our business development manager for the inspection industry, is ready to get you started on your drone journey.
George has enhanced business performance in organisations like Severn Trent Water, IRISNDT and TEXO by providing a complete drone solution. George’s expertise lies in increasing business efficiency by using a drone solution where possible as well as traditional inspection methods. Key clients report project times are now counted in days rather than weeks, the quality of the data is much higher, and smaller crews are required to carry out the inspection.
You can catch up on one of George’s webinars here:
How can using drones for inspection reduce costs?
Inspections are simply a part of the maintenance or performance monitoring processes in industrial, commercial and agricultural environments. Most often, perhaps as much as 80 per cent of the time, inspections will find no problem that requires fixing. That makes inspections an inefficient process when sending a human inspector to undertake the work.
Drone inspections can enormously reduce costs and offer significant returns on investment. By using a drone to collect visual, real-time and recorded data on the condition of an asset, UAV inspections help inspectors avoid having to place themselves in dangerous situations. By significantly reducing the amount of time personnel are placed in hazardous situations, companies can also reduce their corresponding liability insurance costs.
Given the relatively low cost of drone inspections, many companies are using them to perform inspections more regularly, which means that potential problems can be surfaced and addressed more quickly. Drone data represents a meticulous record of the condition of an asset over time. By collecting and archiving visual data, companies have a digital footprint of the asset’s life history that can be accessed at any time.
Not only that, software now exists that allows transfer of data from the drones and the creation of reports to send to key stakeholders possible on the same day. One example being AIVA – the Ultimate Inspection Software Tool for doing just that. Getting the information to key stakeholders as quickly and effectively as possible. We’re talking hours, not days.
Applications of Drone Inspection…
The environments which benefit from drone inspections are wide-ranging and ever-expanding. But, in particular, include agriculture, chemicals industries, in construction, infrastructure and utilities sectors, the insurance industry, mining, oil and gas, and public safety.
Specific examples of where UAVs are used in the above sectors include power line monitoring, the inspection of wind turbines, mobile phone masts, railways, roads, bridges and a host of other civil engineering projects. In agriculture, drones can be used to monitor livestock and crops.
In the insurance industry, UAVs are an increasingly powerful tool for inspecting the condition of buildings and sites, damaged assets and car accident scenes.
For public safety organisations, drones can inspect events arenas, gather data on crime, fire and disasters and aid incident reconstruction.
Drone inspection cost versus traditional inspection cost…
There are numerous examples of specific applications where drones have delivered considerable efficiencies compared with traditional inspection methods. Take a look at these two:
1) According to research carried out by the UK Drone Safety Register on a specific example of inspections in the construction industry, savings achieved by utilising a drone can be anywhere between 70 and 85 per cent. For example, they concluded that the total cost of erecting scaffolding to perform a roof inspection would be £1,250. Using an elevated platform would cost £1,050. Yet the cost of deploying a drone would be around £500.
2) When West Sussex Council commissioned Balfour Beatty to trial bridge inspection work using drones, the result was a direct saving of £8,000 per inspection. Not only that, but using a UAV reduced disruption and inconvenience to the public and road users, and lowered potential health and safety risks.
So, what are the Top Drones for Inspection in 2021?
Let’s get stuck into what we believe will take your inspections to the next level this year:
DJI Matrice 300 RTK
The M300 is most intelligent and versatile drone on the market. Paired with the Zenmuse H20 series, it offers up to 55 minutes of flight time, advanced AI capabilities, 6 Directional Sensing & Positioning and more.
Possibly one of the biggest standout features of the M300 RTK is the advanced payload capacity and gimbal configuration. You can add up to three sensors, two down, one up, with a maximum combined weight of 2.7kg.
The M300 RTK can fly for almost an hour unencumbered with a payload. At full capacity and weighing 9kg, you’ll still get 31 minutes before you need to change your batteries. For a commercial drone this is huge.
The dual remote-control mode also allows for 3 live feeds to be simultaneously streamed, including the built-in FPV camera. Using the Smart Pin & Track function you can also identify and follow moving targets. For anyone looking to use drones for public safety and search and rescue missions, this could be the deciding factor. Just tap the screen on the object you want to follow, and PinPoint automatically delivers its current coordinates. Smart Track will then continuously update the subject’s dynamic location until you tell it to stop. Clever stuff, especially if you’re looking for an offshore or long-range inspection drone.
You can see the capabilities of the M300 in this video of UAV Expert George Burne and Duncan Turner from Severn Trent Water using a Matrice 300 to carry out water inspections.
DJI Zenmuse H20 Camera
These multi-sensor payloads bring a whole new meaning to mission efficiency. The unique intelligence and integrated design provide unprecedented aerial imaging capabilities for a range of commercial drone applications.
The H20 is a hybrid sensor with laser rangefinder, zoom and wide-angle camera options. It comes with with an all-in-one user interface that enables quick switching between each camera option.
For inspection purposes, the H20 camera is a perfect addition. The camera comes with Al Spot-Check, which allows you to automate routine inspections and capture accurate data.
It’s no secret that the ELIOS 2 is the most intuitive, reliable and precise indoor inspection drone. The ELIOS 2 is designed especially for confined spaces, fitted with robust transmission, collusion resilience and confined space accessibility.
The ELIOS 2 has been engineered to reduce downtime, improve safety and lower the cost of industrial inspection, making it one of the most versatile pieces of kit in the inspection industry.
You can use the ELIOS 2 to capture both visual and thermal data as it carries an optical camera as well as a thermal camera, along with a powerful lighting system.
Want to know more? Read our case study on how Northumbrian Water are changing the game using the ELIOS 2 to carry out inspections of reservoirs here.
Parrot ANAFI USA
The Parrot ANAFI USA is one of the most durable, reliable and accurate UAVs. If you are working in Aerial Inspection, you need to add this drone into your fleet.
The Parrot ANAFI USA allows you to capture high quality thermal images, blend your data between thermal and RGB images and replay, edit and analyse thermal media from the drone – without any downloading.
Using ANAFI enables aerial shots to be collected and exploited, to enrich the information already in the possession of building specialists.
The specificity of ANAFI’s optronic sensor allows drone operators to observe complicated areas of access, which would normally have been impossible to photograph.
One nice touch with the ANAFI range is that its gimbal can be rotated 90 degrees upwards as well as down, giving you full 180-degree rotation on the vertical. In inspection terms this is great for getting a close-up view of ceilings or scouting underneath power lines or anywhere else where the mobility of the camera is just as important as the agility of the drone itself.
Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
Having only launched last year, the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is set to take industrial inspections to the next level.
The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced features powerful thermal and visual sensors, RTK capabilities, and up to 32x zoom. The size and weight of the drone can access even the most remote location without issue.
Equip a DJI RTK module to the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced to achieve centimetre-level accuracy. The Module also supports NTRIP, making the drone an ideal solution for powerline inspections; providing a more reliable flight in areas with high electromagnetic interference.
To aid missions in complex environments, the drone can operate in cold conditions as low as -10° C (14° F), thanks to its self-heating batteries.
The drone is equipped with high resolution camera sensors, a radiometric thermal camera, which provides HD 640 x 512 px thermal resolution. It also features a 30Hz frame rate and allows ±2°C temperature measurement accuracy. Operators can also utilise the 48MP visual camera with 1/2″ CMOS sensor.
You can pre-order your Mavic Enterprise Advanced here.
This drone is definitely one to look out for in 2021!
The AceCore Zoe is a highly versatile quadcopter designed for easy transportation and capable of exceptional flight times of up to 40 minutes. The thing that sets the AceCore Zoe apart from every other quadcopter UAV is its ability to adapt to a specific mission. The Zoe can be easily adapted to work with integrated payloads of 6.5kg.
Not only is the Zoe water-resistant, it can also operable in wind gusts of up to 35 knots. Despite only benefitting from 4 rotors, increased redundancy is achieved with the use of an optional parachute kit.
A triple redundancy autopilot option provides even greater reliability for autonomous missions, and an auto-deploy parachute system facilitates safe operation even in the rare event of a critical failure.
The thing that sets Zoe apart from every other quadcopter UAV is its ability to adapt to a specific mission. When need be, Zoe can work with payloads up to 6.5KG confidently. With a lighter haul, Zoe can achieve flight times up to 40 minutes.
Zoe is recommended for companies whose jobs require a longer flight time while still considering weather proofing and robustness. Frequent applications include aerial surveying/ land mapping, infrastructure inspection and live broadcasting using our tether system.
Ace Core Neo
Last but certainly not least, let us introduce you to the Ace Core Neo…
The AceCore Neo is often used for applications that require a system capable of lifting heavy payloads in high wind/ wet environments. Also, being an octocopter, Neo offers a greater level of redundancy. This is why it is a popular choice for industries with high safety requirements like jobs requiring flying over cities and people and specific types of inspections.
The rainproof construction allows you to make more use of the Neo even in rain or snow. Motors are inverted to keep them better protected from the elements in adverse weather conditions. Manufactured from 93% carbon fibre, the Neo is both lightweight and robust. Despite weighing just 6.85kg, it is designed to maintain performance even in strong gusts of wind, thanks to its eight powerful brushless motors and vibration damping technology.
Where can you purchase these drones from?
That’s a wrap on our top drones for inspection in 2021. I wonder what we will be writing about this time next year…
They all offer a solid flying experience, along with high-quality imaging and data capture to enable commercial and industrial inspections.
Each drone is especially suited to a range of applications. But which is best for your own business or organisation’s inspection requirements?
At Coptrz we have the largest range of commercial drone solutions available in the UK. If you’re interested in any of the drones listed above, then don’t hesitate to contact our team of Industry Experts today.
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