BV’s first drone survey marks rise of remote inspections

Drone carrying out ultrasonic thickness measurements inside the hold of a bulk carrier. Credit: Bureau Veritas

A close-up inspection survey, including ultrasonic thickness measurements, was carried out by a drone in two cargo hold spaces by classification society Bureau Veritas (BV) on 4 March 2020.

The survey, which was carried out onboard a bulk carrier in agreement with the relevant flag authority, shows ‘proof of concept’ for drones as a tool for remote inspection techniques.

According to a statement issued by BV, aerial drones are now a mature technology and their impact on survey inspections will drastically increase maritime safety.

The use of drones will provide safer conditions for the surveyor as they will not be exposed to the risks of working at a height or even be required to enter confined spaces themselves. Furthermore, inspection time will also be reduced and better evidence will be gathered in assessing hull conditions.

Given the number of seafarer deaths every year in enclosed spaces, this technology has the potential to save lives and unnecessary time spent in these dangerous places on board.

“We are now ready to offer operational surveys using drones anywhere in the world. We will continue to look for innovation and test new ideas, but drone surveys are now going to be part of everyday life for ship surveys. Above all, drones provide a level of detail and new level of safety that will benefit both our clients and our surveyors,” said Laurent Leblanc, senior vice-president for technical and operations, BV.