Detection of incidents in ship hulls are to this day done in various harbours
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) 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 that 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 costs.
As the ship enters the dry dock, 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.
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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 876557
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