Junio Palomba of Flyability was on hand at our drone demo day to answer some of your questions – here they are;
Can I fly the Elios 2 in Nitrogen?
We have done inspections inside nitrogen filled environments and it works fine, you just need to have a safe recovery system. Obviously if for whatever reason, the drone can’t be recovered safely after the inspection then either you wait for the area to be purged with oxygen or you need to ensure that you can recover the drone without sending a person in there – which negates the idea of using drones to avoid people going into confined spaces. But we have tested it and it works.
How do you not get lost?
A lot of it comes down to prior knowledge of the asset. So we would never fly into an area where we do not have access to blueprints or are not stood next to the engineer that can tell you; “so from here you go there… ETC”. A lot of it comes down to practise, there is a learning curve, tunnels are notoriously difficult, sewers are the same, a boiler or a pressure vessel like the one you see in the video are relatively easy to navigate. But obviously, (and Coptrz has become incredibly proficient at this) training plays a huge part. Especially the specialised training that they (Coptrz) offer; not just the training of how to fly the drone but also how to plan an inspection from A to B. So, battery management, risk avoidance. So yeah, maybe a few more words about the company if there isn’t any more questions? The main mission of the company and it’s purpose is to avoid putting humans into confined spaces. Originally as a testament to the research version of the original product, the idea was to use it for spelunking or speleology as an aid to exploration. It was only after talking to industry people that it was said that you could make a fortune selling this to the oil and gas industry, to the nuclear industry. So it was only as an afterthought that for industrial inspections this could be a fantastic drone – and it is. The reception of the Elios 2 (and maybe George could say a few words about that) we launched about 9 months ago in London and the reception has been absolutely phenomenal. Once again, infrastructure, nuclear, military they’re all buying this drone for three simple reasons. Which makes our job as sales people very very easy. It’s a product that has a pitch for everyone that you talk to inside a company. If you’re talking to the CFO – you show them the kinds of savings that can be made on inspecting confined spaces, they will be blown away. If you’re speaking to an operations manager then you can tell him that he doesn’t need to put his people up a scaffold or on a rope to inspect an chimney – He’s going to be really happy with that. And when you talk to the maintenance people you can tell them that you can cut in half the shut down time. Once again, it’s going to be an immediate win. So regardless of who you pitch it to there is a positive argument to be made; in terms of money, of health safety and of shut down time.
Is the Elios 2 ATEX rated?
We wrote an article on this that is available on our website – the drone is not ATEX rated. There’s not a good track record of drone companies trying to produce ATEX products. There was one french company that tried called Xamen – You can look them up – They went bankrupt last year. They were bankrolled by TOTAL – So not exactly lightweight. The two main issues with ATEX rating are; the propellors and the static energy they create, and the battery. Even if you were to switch to wood propellors you would still have the battery. Nonetheless, the majority of our clients, especially here in the UK come from the Oil and Gas industry. So for the most part, a hot work permit would give you all the leeway you need in order to operate in a tank or another ATEX regulated area.
If you’re interested in hearing how the Elios 2 can make cuts in your business click here.