AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France – Novadem, a French firm that specializes in “embedded systems constrained by weight, obstruction, and consumption” has announced a technology that allows UAVs to perform fully automatic inspections in places without satellite coverage.
The company’s LPS (Local Position System) technology accomplishes this task using terrestrial beacons, each covering an area with a 200-meter radius, to create a local positioning network. This network, since it does not rely on open sky, can be used under bridges, turbines, or even inside buildings or tunnels where GPS coverage is unavailable.
Pascal Zunino, Director of Novadem said that the company’s years of experience manufacturing UAVs for inspection of structures has given them insight into the needs of that particular market segment. “Some of these needs include the precise positioning of the UAV close to and even under structures,” he said in a statement. “Indeed, in these conditions, the GPS cannot get measures because of the lack of satellites in view. Operators have no other choices but to perform these inspections in manual piloting mode, making it difficult and even dangerous.”
The company touts the solution as automating UAV flight paths with precision of up to 10 centimeters in three dimensions. In a video released by Novadem, a UAV flies back and forth under a bridge, at a very close distance.
According to Novadem, the LPS solution enables 100% automation of inspections, as it provides a constant signal that works regardless of weather conditions or variations in the surface of measurement. “It is now possible to ensure the repeatability of the inspection over time,” they explained in a release. “As a result, the security and efficiency of missions is significantly increased compared to a manual piloting.”
Other benefits include more precise georeferencing of photographs as well as flight planning that optimizes data captured.
According to Novadem, the technology is being tested by the “big players of the sector” and will be commercially available sometime in 2015. SPAR was not able to obtain further details or price information.