Drones have been successfully trialled by a major shipping group for aerial and underwater surveys of vessel hulls
Drones have been successfully trialled by a major shipping group for aerial and underwater surveys of vessel hulls as an endorsement for this technology.
Japanese shipping group Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) has tested unmanned vehicles for ship hull inspection and is developing ways to use this technology for vessel maintenance.
It is working with Technos Mihara Corp to develop drones and methods of image analysis to minimise the need for divers in surveys and repairs of vessel hulls.
K Line is also developing methods of surveying inside cargo holds in ship hulls using unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Japanese shipping group commenced this programme in reaction to the difficulty it has inspecting hard to access areas of a ship including underwater hull sections and the top sides of cargo holds.
Developing drone use is part of K Line’s drive for improving the quality of its fleet through enhanced ship inspections and maintaining a dedicated team of superintendents under its KL-Quality programme.
“We have found notable improvements in the accuracy of such inspections,” said K Line. “We have also encountered an improvement in efficiency and safety of the inspections by automation using these drones.”
Both companies have begun the next phase of this programme by developing drones and digital image analysis specifically for ship hull inspection and maintenance.
K Line set up a new department in its organisation in January 2019 to promote digitalisation and artificial intelligence technologies for its shipping operations. Its aim is to introduce new technology, improve transportation services and retain reliability and customer satisfaction.
Technos Mihara development history
2014 – Technos Mihara starts to develop drones for marine transportation business.
April 2018 – started practical tests on board K Line ships.
July 2018 – started a service of aerial crop spraying using drones.
January 2019 – obtained world’s first approval from ClassNK as an official drone service provider for an alternative vessel inspection system.
January 2019 – obtained approval from Bureau Veritas as an official drone service provider.