Drone completes 100-km flight for oil and gas market

January 16, 2018  - By
Image: GPS World

SkyX Systems Corporation has successfully completed an unmanned data-collection flight of 100 kilometers (km), one of the longest journeys in its class.

The firm flew its SkyOne unmanned aerial system (UAS) on an autonomous data mission over more than 100 km of gas pipeline in Mexico. The robotic flight was programmed and monitored remotely from the company’s Greater Toronto Area SkyCenter mission control, with a support crew of engineers on the ground in Mexico.

Using high-resolution imagery, the longest of multiple flights identified more than 200 potentially significant anomalies along the remote pipeline, ranging from unauthorized buildings and cultivation, to a fissure possibly caused by seismic activity.

More than $38 billion is spent annually monitoring oil and gas pipelines using less efficient means. The SkyX System flight gathered data in a little more than an hour that would have taken a person well over a week. It identified more than 200 georeferenced anomalies the customer was unaware existed, pinpointing precise coordinates for rapid investigation and remediation.

The SkyX System consists of a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone, the SkyCenter control room, which allows for real-time and secure mission monitoring from remote locations, as well as the company’s proprietary SkyBoxes that enable SkyOne to recharge and continue long-range missions without having to return to home, a factor that limits many drones.

Using the system, a client doesn’t need a trained pilot to operate a remote-control unit — the entire mission is programmed and carried out autonomously, from takeoff to landing. Plus, the VTOL drone eliminates the need for runways, launchers or capture devices.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.