AmeyVTOL has demonstrated the first drone inspection of UK infrastructure to go beyond visual line of sight (BVLoS).
During the trial, the VTOL flying wing surveyed a two-kilometre area autonomously and out of the sight of the pilot.
Previously, drone inspections were limited to flight within visual line of sight (WVLoS) and as such, could not go farther than 500 metres from the pilot.
The successful trial opens up “significant possibilities for BVLoS inspections of long linear infrastructure such as roads, railways and overhead power lines”.
It could also save time and massively reduce inspection and survey costs, as well as increasing the quality, volume, and repeatability of data – enabling better asset management decisions and more efficient maintenance.
It also allows inspections and surveys to be undertaken without people needing to work alongside a live railway.
The operational control centre plots the planning, simulation, and remote monitoring of BVLoS drone operations.
The demonstration project was part of a government-sponsored Rail First of a Kind programme promoted by Innovate UK through the Small Business Research Initiative.
AmeyVTOL will now be offering this capability to infrastructure owners and operators that wish to deliver efficient and repeatable asset safety and condition inspections, and topographical surveys, without placing people in hazardous environments.