We develop solutions for the maritime industry to support, as well as challenge, current processes at sea. The overall goal is to ensure continued optimization which includes safety, less downtime, cost reduction, and uniform documentation, but we are always looking for new possibilities of creating value for the maritime industry.
Upteko™ offers a robust drone system that is able to fly in extreme weather conditions. Supporting high-resolution camera to provide an excellent overview of surroundings, allowing for precise docking, this drone system also provides real-time alerts when other objects (boats, people) are close by, reducing collisions.
Our drones can be used for Search and Rescue missions, as they can be equipped with a payload that includes advanced thermographic camera and tracking software to detect human presence around the boat, as well as a floatation device payload that can be dropped to radically improve survival chances.
Upteko’s drone system will autonomously take off/land and perform assigned operations, which can be controlled through an user interface application, without prior manual drone flight experience, meaning that the captains or crew members in charge can use Upteko’s drones to perform search and rescue, harbour docking functions and so on, with ease.
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Lärke is Upteko's maritime solution that consists of a drone system with interchangeable payloads and an automatic charging station that can live on-board a ship. With this system, we are ensuring the optimization of both the industry's logistics, time, and security risk, in order to manifest benefits for various maritime tasks such as Search and Rescue operations, ship docking etc.
Search and Rescue
In most Man Over-Board (MOB) scenarios, a person becomes unconscious in water after only a few minutes. Ships need a system to alert rescue crews seconds after an MOB situation occurs; a way for the coordinates of the person to be sent, a flotation device and a lifeboat to the exact geolocation. This requires data beyond the line of sight.
Time is the most critical element in Search and Rescue operations for drowning incidents. The submersion time for people who survive intact or with mild neurological damage is less than 5 minutes (median), whereas the average for non-surviving victims is 16 minutes.
The likelihood of survival is very low in general for submersion over 10 minutes. This drastically improves with a flotation device.
A victim has 80% higher survival chance, and a survival time of 2-4 hours (18x higher). Ship cruise speed is 18-20 knots (10 m/s), rescuers have a window of less than a minute to find and rescue a man overboard, if the alert was raised when the person fell overboard.
332 deaths from drowning in boating accidents are reported in US yearly, compared to 3,536 non-boating drownings. A large number of staff, aircraft and ships are working together to search for a missing person (3 aircrafts and 60 vessels were looking for a man who fell from a fishing vessel in Canada).
Here is a calculation of 21 man overboard situations reported, with the average search costing €0.9 M or €20 M/yr. Adding up the cost of claims from shipping drowning incidents, we reach a total value of €6.6 B/yr.
Mike Baron, U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division says -
In 2011, there were 359 recorded accidents involving a “person in the water” (PIW) or a man overboard (MOB) — an extremely dangerous situation for rescuers and the individual in the water. Knowing what to do and when are essential to maximizing safety and survival.
Upteko is working on a system solution to calculate the position of people falling overboard. It has an application that is a standard on our multipurpose drone. The Charging station of the drone is connected to the AIS signal of the ship. In this way, it knows the speed of the ship, the direction of the wind, the underwater current, and the sail path of the ship.
With this information, the direction of a MOB (man overboard) can be calculated, and how many centimeters this person would move in any direction per second.
With a short interaction with the systems computer from anyone with access to it, a command is given to the drone with a push of a button, and the drone takes off and activates the RGB and the thermal sensor.
The drone flies in the direction of the MOB and the thermal sensor with AI will detect the hotter pixels in the image and send the exact location back to the bridge, so a safety boat can be sent directly to the victim. this is especially an advantage at night where the MOB is most likely not visible in line of sight.
Ship docking is done with assistance from either the captains assistant or a local port pilot. It can often be done with the use of tugboats and ropes, and would take up to 1-2 hours for larger ships. in some cases, other ships have been landed and the docking situation has changed drastically in the port, and assessment from the ground does not provide sufficient overview to avoid collisions. The lack of aerial overview is a problem for large ships in busy ports. Any contact between the ship and other objects can result in hull damage, damage to already docked ships and man overboard situations which as stated above, is hard to detect and costly to fix. Whilst this is a problem for the ship itself, there is an added risk of damaging third party property in the area, as other ships or the infrastructure in the port. This is a large liability for ship owners, and manifests itself in the expensive insurance premiums designed to cover such eventualities.
Ship collisions from human errors mean insurance costs of €1.3 B in 2018, without small hull repairs. Adding up the total time ships take to dock; a total value of €5.07 B / year for the problem is reached.
The Upteko multipurpose drone system, will provide what we today know as a parking camera for a modern car. The captain can simply with the push of a button, choose where he wants to place the view of the camera for the ship docking procedure. This view can be shared with both the port and the tug boats pushing and pulling in the sophisticated dockings.
In the aerial view, he gets a full distance measurement that is not provided with human error. Everybody the captain chooses to share the drones view with, will all have the same overview and be in the same operation.
In case of offshore wind-turbine inspections and maintenance, wind turbine technicians bring spare parts and tools when transferring from a vessel to a turbine. However, it often happens that the technicians need additional spare parts, smaller electrical components or a specific tool. Currently, such scenario requires the technicians to climb down the turbine and collect equipment delivered by the service vessel or a transfer boat. These bring extra time and costs on crews and vessels, extra fuel expenses, as well as time wasted and security risks of turbine technicians.
The solution is to use a drone to transport equipment and spare parts between two points: service vessel and a wind-turbine, following a route that is adjustable along the way. We are currently working on developing an offshore package delivery system where the package will be autonomously transported from a vessel to the nearest wind-turbine. The vessel-wind-turbine concept is going to cover distance of 4 km with 5 kg payload.
The potential reduction in costs is directly connected to typical downtime of a turbine, the time a technician spends on obtaining spare parts or additional tools as well as costs of crew and gasoline of service vessel which in some cases has to return to the wind-turbine to transport equipment. The offshore package delivery system could optimize processes and contribute to making the operation of an offshore wind farm more efficient. Including the cases where it is assumed to use Upteko’s offshore package delivery system instead of crew transfer/ service vessels (CTV’s) and helicopters, it is possible to estimate that the potential savings would be between 1.717.279 and 5.480.048 Euros per year. The calculations are based on standard prices, downtime and number of technicians for a typical assignment. These prices are compared with the expected price and downtime for using the drone-based transport system.
Dry Dock Inspection
Detection of incidents in ship hulls are to this day done in various harbors.
The vessels are exposed to constant pressure from the environment. Therefore, periodic inspections are required to find damages before they become too dangerous and are critically affecting the structural integrity of the ship. Owners are asked to carry out these inspections once every 6 months to 2 years. This is done manually, with diesel powered crane machines, scaffolding and rope access climbers checking the hull in a dry dock. This presents several challenges: Rope access climbers are at risk of falling, According to IRATA (The Leading Association in The Rope Access Industry IRATA) Since 1989, company members have reported a total of 11 fatalities - six between 2013 and 2017. Additionally, there were 18 instances of "rope damage or severance" and 32 "dropped objects", including tool bags, buckets and a helmet which fell 38 floors.
The inspections last as long as (96 hours, spread over 4 days in the dry dock)
Using 12 rope access climbers who use handheld cameras and does only take a picture of clearly visible damages and do not provide a full dataset of the inspection. The climbers take a picture of the crack and record its location for maintenance work. This is a visual inspection, and it is limited by the experience of the inspector. Other than the places where they find faults, there are no images of the rest of the ship.
Owners spent as much as €2.7 B in 2019 on dry dock repairs in the US. Lost revenues during inspection account for another €7.4 B / year for the global fleet, with a total of €10.1 B yearly cost.
As the ship enters the drydock, the inspectors, climbers, machines, wait 4 hours for the dock to empty out the water, meanwhile the Upteko multipurpose drone launches and perform a fixed flight pattern of the ship and collects a full dataset of pictures, and combines this into a 2d mosaic dataset in less than 2 hours.
This dataset can be powered by AI and damages can be found and tracked over time, creating a completely new way of keeping track of vessel performance and structure, reducing risks, and streamline the process for dry dock inspections.
Pirates use small ships and attack large commercial ships at night. They board ships and take the crew and contents hostage. There are no mobile long-range detection tools with aerial insight to give the crew information about nearby pirates. Ship captains therefore avoid sailing past known danger zones (East Coast of Africa). They go faster in coastal areas – as no ship travelling faster than 18 knots have ever been boarded successfully. Both of these bring extra fuel expenses and time wasted due to longer routes chosen.
The total cost of piracy to the shipping industry, from insurance and time lost is estimated at over €6B/year.
Upteko’s multipurpose drone system has a feature called situation awareness.
This feature allows any member of the crew to investigate surrounding vessels approaching the ship. Within the drone system, a built-in feature is added to allows a crew member with no prior drone experience, to operate and control the aerial camera in any direction
Fire Hazard Inspection
Current procedures for preventing ship fires include extinguishers, rules forbidding smoking on board and visual inspection. Crews need to patrol and check for smoke every 30 minutes in all ship areas.
This method is not accurate at detecting container fires, and even when detected, important time is spent on finding where the fire originated from.
Statistics show a fire takes place on a ship every 60 days, and this has increased to every 30 days this year. Recent major fires include Grande America, Yantian Express, APL Vancouver, Grande America, ER Kobe and KMTC Hong Kong only in 2019.
A fire means a large repair bill and ship downtime, the average loss per fire is €20 M, or €120 M/year to the shipping industry. 13% of shipping losses are due to fire incidents, the second biggest cause after machine breakdown. In addition, insurance costs add up to €450 M/yr, for a total size of €570 M/year for this problem.
Upteko created beacons for the drone to position itself over the ship during situational awareness and docking. With the push of more beacons for larger ships, and one beacon for smaller ships, the drone will position itself over the beacon and use the thermal sensor to make a heat map of the ship. If any abnormal heat signatures are present, the system will give an alarm to the bridge, that an area is hotter than what it is normally. It is then possible to see on the live heatmap, where the heat is located so inspection can be made in the correct area.
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