With four drone types in its arsenal, DNV GL has
adapted its survey technology to various ship structures.
Recently DNV GL reached a new milestone with its first offshore
It's a gusty day in Gdynia, Poland, and outside the DNV GL
station Leszek Alba is waiting for the wind to change. Alba is
one of DNV GL's 16 drone surveyors. Today, he is testing the
Custom drone's stability in different wind conditions and the
stability of the video transmission - an important factor during
the inspection of remote structural components in tanks and cargo
Since DNV GL carried out its first production drone survey in
June 2016, it has become the leading provider in this field.
"When we started out, we wanted to find a safer, more efficient
and cheaper way of fulfilling the requirements of close-up
surveys. During these inspections, a surveyor has to be able to
touch a surface to check the condition of the material," explains
Cezary Galinski, Senior Principal Surveyor and Head of the DNV GL
This global team is headquartered in Gdynia but also works out of
Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore and Houston. "So instead of taking the
surveyor to the component, we bring the component to the
surveyor, on 4k, high-definition video," he adds. So far the team
has conducted more than 25 drone production surveys around the
world. Typical ships include tankers, bulkers and, more recently,
semi-submersibles and jack-ups. "These are the vessel types that
require close-up surveys," explains Galinski.
DNV GL has four drone types in its arsenal: The Custom drone, the
DJI Phantom, the Mavic drone and the Flyability Elios drone -
each with different capabilities and areas of application. What
they all have in common is that they were modified in Leszek
This cellar room, filled with carefully catalogued shelves, spare
cables, batteries, soldering irons and a variety drones in
different stages of construction, is where DNV GL customizes
off-the-shelf drones to make them fit for inspection purposes.
"Commercially available drones are built for users who fly them
outside in open spaces and shoot footage of objects below. So,
one of the first things we do is change the drone's software
settings for adjusting the camera angle. This enables us to film
objects that are in front of or above the drone," says Galinski.
Looking ahead Galinski expects drones to revolutionize the
inspection regime. "I am confident we will see the introduction
of autonomous drones. This would open up many new possibilities.
For example, they could be dropped into inerted compartments
where humans cannot enter," he explains.
The surveyor could stay outside while the drone would follow a
predefined flight path to check the condition of the compartment.
"This would enable us to carry out inspections without lengthy
preparations, while keeping the surveyors safe," adds Galinski.
In future, it might even be possible for an autonomous drone
equipped with artificial intelligence to carry out a survey
independently, monitored by the surveyor from the shore office
using a virtual-reality headset.