There are more than 50.000 large merchant ships worldwide that require, by the international maritime regulation, detailed inspections (including visual, wall thickness, and paint coating) in tanks and holds every 5 years.

The ACIDRONES is an EU-funded project supported by RIMA (Robotics for Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance Grant agreement ID: 824990). This project wants to integrate manipulation with aerial robots to inspect wall thickness and maintain ships. Furthermore, this project uses the most ground-breaking technologies like artificial intelligence to rise the TRL of state of the art solutions for inspections. These inspections are usually costly due to production stops and dangerous because the inspectors and the staff need to access hazardous areas.

The use of contact drones for these inspections will allow reducing time and cost of these operations, reducing drastically the risks of these activities, and also improving the quality of the inspection data with a 100% digital, AI-based, and traceable process.

Since ACIDRONES started past November, the technology has been integrated and its validation in real life environments has started. With this it has been shown how the platform that is being developed could improve inspections of ship hulls. The use of autonomous positioning using LiDAR technology and VR systems are some of the features of the system. The idea behind it is to enable inspectors to understand and control drones in a more human friendly way by creating a better autonomous control system and visualization interface.

This project is the union of VES (Vertical Engineering Solutions) and BUQUELAND, two companies from the south of Spain with international projection. VES is a young technological spin-off based in the south of Spain. Since it’s born in 2019, it has provided inspection services with drones for the industry. The company, with basement in Algeciras, accounts with an engineering team in Seville, which has the support of CATEC and the University of Seville, pioneers in the research of unmanned aerial systems. VES has participated previously in national and international projects such as AERIAL-CORE or ICDRONE.

Buqueland is a company based in Cadiz with presence in the industry over Spain and in many international industries in the world. It offers Complete services of Quality, Inspection, and Control by non-destructive testing, and dimensional control. Buqueland operates in both new and in-use facilities and constructions in sectors such as industrial, maritime, offshore, Eolic, and petrochemical.